TG Talk - Is experience of failure (and its lessons) necessary to make the best leaders?

TG Talk - Is experience of failure (and its lessons) necessary to make the best leaders?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Do we need to fail to succeed?

James Oakes, Director at Zeal Investments, will be leading a debate at this October's EiG Expo in Berlin around ‘The F Word’. Not that F word. F for Failure and the best ways to tackle the concept.

TG Talk asked some of the industry's experts to give us their perspectives on whether failure is necessary to succeed.

Mark Blandford, Partner at Burlywood Capital - As someone who was sacked from an early career job and turned down for the first business loan I asked for I’d like to think I came out stronger as a result.

I think failure can be a fulcrum point in a leader’s development. A few key issues that are useful to highlight are:

  • Some learn the lessons and strengthen as a result and others don’t.
  • The biggest crime for a leader is not failure,  it’s the failure to learn from the experience.
  • Strong leaders build strong teams, its not a  failure to hire people who are smarter than you. 

Don’t let failure stop you from making tough and bold decisions.  A natural reaction following a failure is to try to play safe and run the risk of completely missing the full future potential of an opportunity as a result.

Aideen Shortt, Partner Consultant, Random Consulting: No, it’s not necessary to experience failure to be great at anything.  You can learn from what works just as well as what doesn’t work – but that is a less compelling headline.  Nevertheless, people who okay with the fact that they might fail are clearly going to be the ones who try more to succeed…and after that it’s just a numbers game as to why there are more leaders who have previously failed at something than those who didn’t.

Chris North, CEO at Gamcrowd: Humble arrogance was a term introduced to me when I was playing top class rugby. It meant that you could think you were the best but be prepared to get your ass kicked once in a while, learn from it and then make yourself a better player / team. I have brought this philosophy with me into my businesses and it has served me well. Having been an entrepreneur in this industry for over 16 years I have had my fair share of minor failures and a couple of major ones too. Each time I learnt from those experiences to make me a better entrepreneur. So yes it is important to know how to fail and in the words of the “lean start up” mantra fail well!

Christina Thakor-Rankin, Industry Consultant:  For me personally my failures have taught me far more than any of my successes. It’s not the easy things in life but the challenges and failures that have opened my eyes to the necessity of having a Plan B (and C), made me more resilient and forced me to think more creatively, and ditch my complacency – all of which I believe are necessary for success in today’s commercial environment.


Is experience of failure (and its lessons) necessary to make the best leaders?

Is failure a necessary experience for the best leaders?

Yes, The best leaders have all failed at some point and learned
38% (3 votes)
No, but it is a very useful experience for a leader to have had
38% (3 votes)
Not at all; you can be a good leader without it
25% (2 votes)
Total votes: 8
Poll availability: 
Wednesday, August 3, 2016 to Friday, September 2, 2016

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