I just finished reading the latest blog post of Stéphanie Dupuis, founder of THEMA – a cool HR and strategy consulting firm.

Her words made me smile and one part particularly caught my eyes :

May 2009 Ghundey Ghar, Afghanistan. Crédit photo : Cplc Jonathan Johansen.

May 2009 Ghundey Ghar, Afghanistan. Crédit photo : Cplc Jonathan Johansen.

At war, if you make a mistake, you can die.
At war, if you don’t do your job, you can die.
At war, if you do your job right, you can die.

This innocent-looking part of her blog truly highlight a too often forgotten subtext of my conferences : in our professional, personal and family lives – just as in combat – it is possible to be confronted by failure even if we do
everything that’s humanly possible in order to succeed.

Let us be honest : even if we all agree that we are living in increasingly and bewilderingly complex environment, we too often look for someone – the one! – to blame when a failure is exposed by the network.

Bluntly, failure is sometimes the result of incompetency or recklessness – in those cases, we must condemn after analyzing the process that led to the failure in the first place and learn something from it.

However, failure can happen even if we did everything with competency and seriousness. As leaders, we must be able to recognize these two kinds of failure – from our employees, our colleagues, but also from our bosses and even ourselves – in order to learn from them and demonstrate leadership by recognizing the effort of those who carry these failures on their shoulders.

If, in a war zone, failure – just like success – can take lives.  In business, failure always brings forth some learning elements and that, generally without any catastrophic and/or permanent consequences.

Giving the right to make mistakes and to live through failure is part of the making of great leaders.

Easy said, harder to remember.

Je me souviens.