By Steve Moran 

Believe it or not, in a twisted way, if you want a better, more positive organization, you need to as a leader be less positive. Here is why.

The Problem

Go through your social media feed, go through LinkedIn, and look for failure stories. They are rarer than black swans. People (me included) hate admitting failure, even though we all have failed on a regular basis. Maybe omitting failures is okay with social media, but it is a guaranteed way for you to hold your organization and your team back.

The Success Problem

When organizations and individuals have success, it feels really good, but it does not provide others much in the way of helpful information. Want proof? If we could effectively learn from success stories, then more organizations — most organizations — would be as successful as Amazon, Google, Zappos, In-N-Out Burger, and Southwest Airlines.

The success path is very narrow, with just one or two ways to find success, and therefore extremely hard to replicate.

The Failure Dividend

For every problem, every situation, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of ways to fail. When we tell failure stories, there are hundreds of ways to fail, and that means multiple ways to learn.

“Hidden failures hide superior information. Failures often provide better and richer information on how to succeed than successes do.”

Get It Done: Surprising Lessons from the Science of Motivation, Ayelet Fishbach

Growing Your Team

If you want to grow your team, grow your organization, grow your business, you should make a point of telling failure stories a few times a month. They do not even need to have complete resolutions except maybe “It simply didn’t work.”

Maybe even better is to present a current failure problem to your entire team, including the front line, and ask for their ideas. This will do two things for you:

  1. It might give you the perfect solution that you would not have thought of.
  2. It will make team members feel more invested and more loyal.

My Failure, My Commitment

My biggest single fail right now is that I am being a little bit of a chicken. We are in a soft launch mode for something called Foresight Awards. The way it works is that you can submit for a variety of awards, including:

  • Best Activity Director
  • Best Activity
  • Best Boss
  • Best Community
  • Best Concierge
  • Best Employee
  • Best Maintenance Person
  • Best Meal
  • Best Nurse
  • Best Resident
  • Best Salesperson

Then each quarter, we have a panel that will pick the winner. Being a winner means having social media bragging rights that will help with culture building, recruiting, and marketing.

My fail is that I simply have not gotten on the phone with leaders to get these submissions done.

I have a new goal of telling a failure story at least twice a month hoping that you and my team can learn something that will make us and the industry better.

And you could help my failure problem by submitting for one of the Foresight Awards.