EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Why Leaders Need to Embrace Failure As A Form Of Success
Every failure should be seen as its own form of success. Every mistake holds a lesson and failures are full of wrong turns. Being scared of failing is absolutely pointless because it is our failures that teach us the lessons we need to succeed. In this day and age failure is feared because it comes with a certain stigma, and no one wants to be categorized as useless. However businesses that are more accepting of mistakes tend to have higher success records in the long run. Success doesn’t come simply for most people, and those who have achieved the greatest successes have also been burdened with failures that could have wiped them out completely. Going through these failures, and working past them to reach success says a lot more about a persons work ethic than someone who has never had to deal with failure before. If you do happen to encounter a failure do not be ashamed, you should embrace it and use it to push yourself forward to your next idea. Here are a few ways to failure can help you flourish:
Do Not Let Your Failure Define You - Let It Teach You A Valuable Lesson
Your emotions and thoughts have massive amounts of control over your behavior. If you let your failures get to you and bring you down, your behavior will follow suit. Take every failure as a lesson, look back and dissect what you did wrong and figure out how to fix it. A failure can show you that you are moving in the wrong direction, and potentially lead you to your next success. If you failed at writing, maybe writing isn’t for you, but you could be an extremely successful editor. The world is full of possibilities and failures simply help you to see what avenues in life just are not for you. Failing can teach you so much, it can teach you humility, it can teach you how to function when you are down and out, and most of all it can teach you to never give up.
Take Responsibility For Your Actions
Failure can help you take responsibility for your actions and hold yourself accountable. When your business idea or plan fails, you have no one to blame except yourself, and as an aspiring business owner or entrepreneur that is a very important lesson to learn. If you do find success, it will be amongst many failures. In fact, most successful companies still fail; take Facebook’s failed attempt to create their own version of SnapChat for example. One of the most important things to keep in mind about your failures is that they belong solely to you. If you put the blame on someone else, you will not ever learn from your mistakes, which is the most valuable part of making a mistake.
Know When To Quit
Sometimes a failure can be a good thing because it can communicate to us that we have gone to far and it is time to let go and move on to something else. Not every idea is a winner and it is important to recognize that. MySpace once received a 580 million dollar investment in 2006 from News Corp. For years News Corp poured massive amounts of money into the company that eventually sold for 34 million dollars, making this a failed investment for News Corp. With the advent of Facebook in 2004, and its surge in popularity in late 2006, early 2007, News Corp. should have recognized its investment as a loss. Had they done so they could have saved themselves millions of dollars. Remember it is important to recognize when your time, energy and money are being wasted.
Capitalize On The Good
Although failures can be a huge hit to your ego, they can also help you to see the bright side of every situation. If you have a failed business venture, chances are you made some good decisions on the path, or networked with great investors or entrepreneurs. You can use all of the connections you made on your failed venture to help your next idea become a success. If you had investors, don’t be scared to go back to them with your new plan of attack, chances are if they believed in you once, they will believe in you again.
Learn To Lead
Failure has the distinct ability to make you analyze your actions and move forward. Use this to learn how to become a better manager or leader. As an aspiring business owner/entrepreneur your key job it to lead your team to success. One of the biggest parts of being a leader is delegation. Do not micromanage – that could be how you got yourself into this situation in the first place. Be prepared to lie out a plan of attack and give your team tasks to be completed.
Remember: Failure Is An Integral Part Of Innovation
Failure teaches you things you didn’t ever know before, so that you can come up with new ways to tackle the issue. Learning what you do not know, and knowing what you know can help you come up with new creative ideas. Each failure teaches a new lessons and new ways to handle every situation, which allows you to find your niche, and figure out what works best for you specifically.
Failure is all about the way you look at it. You could fail and think “well, that was that now I am done” or you could fall off that horse and get right back on. No person has ever succeeded at every single thing they have tried; success is a product of lessons learned. As a business owner you must be resilient and flexible, you must take your mistakes in stride and better yourself because of them. Failure, when paired with the right attributes can motivate a person to work harder and better. So stop letting failure frighten you off.
About the Author
Victoria Treyger has more than 15 years of experience in building brands and customer loyalty. She joined Kabbage because she loved its mission to understand customers better and provide them with cash when they need it. Kabbage has provided $150 million+ in funding to small businesses since 2008.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.