Leaders Can Make Failure Unfatal

As human beings, we all can relate to experiencing personal highs and lows. If you or your team are going through what feels like a failure right now, I wrote this for you.  I have 3 thoughts for you to consider.

Our lives flow through cycles where one day we achieve an important milestone and feel great, then the next day we begin settling into a valley or maybe even feel beat down. Isn’t that about right?

It is like this for teams too; just like as in life.  Even the best teams with superior talent have cycles.  As leaders we recognize this.  Don’t you agree that leading well includes leading through failure as much as it does experiencing success?

If we want to become an exemplary leader, we have special responsibilities to our teams that are experiencing failure.

Leading through failure

Don’t make it worse

When going through a tough time, it isn’t helpful to offer good suggestions for “next time” right away. Instead, we need to avoid saying anything that might appear to be critical to those suffering. Instead, we offer the support and direction the team needs in order to get them through. While at times the damage has been done and there is little we can really do for them, sharing the pain is sometimes all they really need from us.

Provide vision

The leader holds the heart of the team with the vision of what they will achieve together. Now is the time to help the team understand that the failure was only a chapter in the story and that it gets better. Protect the heart at all cost.  Encourage them to stay in the story!


If there are threats to the team. Protect. This is the time where we are out front. We take the hit and that is precisely why they look to us as leader.

Do we do this even when it is not our fault?

Yes. That is exactly when we are expected to do it. There will be plenty of time for teaching and coaching later.

We have all served under leaders who didn’t protect us. People like us provide cover for the team.


When following a leader that offers us cover, doesn’t make things worse during trouble, and offers us a compelling vision for the future, we know we will be okay.

We all have the capacity to become the leader we all deserve.