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Coaching Through Failure is Important

Shift the Mindset

We all read a lot of articles about leadership development and the various methods of reaching today's workforce to build tomorrow's leaders. The processes of coaching and mentoring that "kids today" require can seem time-consuming and even overindulgent.

Of course, there are advantages and challenges to every approach, but one of the steps in this IndustryWeek article about turning shop-floor workers into leaders really jumped out; coaching through a failure is important.

Yes, we want to build confidence with success, progressing from minor to hard-won. But along the way, some failure is important as well. It is imperative that failure is seen not as a personal failure; it is not a character flaw that causes failure in a manufacturing setting; it is very often not even a personal mistake that causes failure. Every failure must be seen as an opportunity to fix a problem; usually a system problem of some kind, and rarely a person-problem.

When training or mentoring a shop-floor worker to become a leader, sensitivity to your future manager's prior experience with failure is important. Without the ability to be open and honest about results that are less than expected, you will never build a trustworthy leader. On the other hand, when the focus shifts from hiding and blame to fixing problems and improving processes, you start to build the team your business needs.