When was the last time you heard an employee or colleague say something along the lines of, “Oops! I made a mistake. And I am really, really excited about it!”
Never? That’s because human beings, in general, hate to fail. And when they do fail, they hate to admit it in public.
In fact, failure can be a good thing. I know, the word “failure” is so negative that it’s hard to believe. But really, fear of failure is much, much more dangerous than failure itself.
When people fear failure, they simply aren’t willing to try new things. They would rather sit in their safe-zones than risk stepping outside and looking like a fool. When a workplace culture is dominated by fear of failure, you may have employees who make few mistakes, but you’ll also have an environment that’s lacking in creativity and innovation.
In today’s competitive economic environment, you must constantly create and innovate in order to compete. It’s interesting that many organizations have developed entire processes designed to develop new products and services, but fail to pay adequate attention to front-end innovation. It’s no wonder that being innovative and creative lists among today’s biggest challenges.
In order to support innovation and creativity, you must develop a corporate culture that embraces risk, uncertainty, and a willingness to make mistakes. Many corporate cultures, particularly those that consider themselves strong, are stuck in the past, resisting new methods, approaches, and strategies. In addition, the focus recently placed on cost cutting, performance, quality, and outsourcing has caused many corporate cultures to develop an aversion to risk. The unspoken anxiety echoes silently through the halls “Is it okay to make a mistake? Not if you want to keep your job! Better play it safe, then.”
Fast Company devotes a quick video on this topic in their 30-Second MBA series. The gist of the video? In order to promote creativity and innovation you must build an environment in which failure holds no stigma, and “learning in public”—in other words, making mistakes and sharing them with your co-workers—is accepted and embraced. This not only promotes an environment in which taking risk is okay, it creates a collaborative environment in which ideas are shared and built upon.
Of course, deciding your organization’s culture needs to change is one thing. Successfully implementing change is quite another. Corporate cultures are durable entities, and like the superhero Mr. Fantastic can be pulled and bent into a variety of shapes but tend to revert back to the original.
When all is said and done, it’s up to leaders to create an organizational culture that helps them meet the goals they want to achieve. But one of the reasons why corporate cultures are so stubborn is that leaders often don’t know how to model, teach, communicate, or reinforce the company culture.
That’s where leadership coaching comes in. In addition to defining the desired culture, designing a plan for culture change, and identifying barriers and roadblocks to the change, executive coaching ensures that leaders consistently and effectively promote culture change.
If innovation and creativity continue to hold your organization back, look to your organizational culture, then to your leaders. What can you do to help your leaders develop a corporate culture that embraces risk and failure—and innovation and creativity? What can you do to develop an environment where it’s not only okay to make mistakes, but it’s valuable to share them? For the answer to this question, contact TurnKey Coaching & Development Solutions and find out what executive coaching can do for your leaders!
Call TurnKey Coaching & Development Solutions at 281-469-4244.