Learn From Mistakes

The best companies allow employees to experiment and make mistakes. In many organizational cultures, innovation is discouraged when leadership doesn’t encourage risk taking. Making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn. We often learn more from our mistakes than our successes. Managers who do not empower employees to take risks to avoid consequences of their actions will depress learning and development. Many people avoid taking risks because they don’t want to experiences consequences. Others make mistakes and don’t learn when they look to avoid consequences.

The same principle applies in our personal lives. I haven’t always made great decisions, though I accept responsibility for and learn from my mistakes. At one point, I started a business without doing my due diligence or consulting my wife, who wisely was against the idea. Four years later, we had depleted our savings and our home was in foreclosure. In the end, we were forced to give it back to the bank. This was devastating. I changed direction with my business, we found a nice rental house, and life continued. It was not the bank or the government that caused me to lose our home. It was a consequence of my choices and actions. Experiencing the consequences of our actions can be a catalyst for change.

Failing to take responsibility and ownership for our decisions can be very costly. We lose the opportunity to learn and grow. I had a friend who was losing his home a couple of years ago. In his case, he decided to stop paying his mortgage when the value of his home fell below what he owed. Many people did this expecting a bailout from the government. When he was complaining about why the president wasn’t doing enough to help him, I interrupted him and told him his blaming was preventing him from finding another solution. He was being a victim. Experiencing the consequences of our actions is incentive to quickly learn and change course. I know first-hand how painful it is to lose a home. But blaming others for our predicaments only hurts us….we give away our power to change. If we believe our problems are generated externally, we may think we have no choice. If we think nothing we do will matter, we may choose to do nothing. When we take personal responsibility, we change our behavior and our outcomes, creating opportunities to learn, grow, and change. It all starts with choosing our response, and learning from the consequences of our choices.

The author Spencer Horn is the President of Spencer Horn Solutions, LLC. Additional articles which may interest you: How To Create Success From Failure; Leadership Is About Impact Not IntentionHow To Prepare Your Next Generation Of LeadersIncrease Your Effectiveness As A Leader With Perception Science;  How To Get Your People To Change TodayCure For The CEO DiseaseThe Importance of Values

The Benefits of Investing in Human Capital

Business executives are always asking training professionals to justify investing in internal and external training. These decision makers want to understand the return on investment (ROI) as they might with a new software program or a marketing campaign. Many also ask why leadership training? There is enough data available on training, including data on Rapport’s training, to justify an executive’s investment in their most valuable asset…their people.
To answer these questions, it is important to understand the current global economy. One of the greatest challenges that organizations face in their quest to thrive, is the ability to change. Thousands of companies have failed while others are thriving. The difference is those that are thriving have the ability to adapt and meet the new market realities. The quicker an organization can change, the sooner they are able to thrive. What allows companies to adapt and change is a culture of leadership.

Emeritus Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School, worldwide speaker, and the author of seven bestselling business books, John P. Kotter states: “Powerful macroeconomic forces are at work here, and these forces may grow even stronger over the next few decades. As a result, more and more organizations will be pushed to reduce costs, improve the quality of products and services, locate new opportunities for growth and increase productivity…..Leadership…creates organizations…and adapts them to significantly changing circumstances.” (Leading Change, John P. Kotter, pp. 3, 25.)

In 2008, IBM came to a similar conclusion in its Global Human Capital Study: “More than ever, today’s global organizations are focusing their time and attention on maximizing the value of their workforces. As corporations, nonprofits and government entities are becoming more globally integrated, and as traditional geographic and competitive boundaries disappear, the need to identify, develop and connect talent has never been more critical.”

The study surveyed senior HR executives from 400 companies in 40 different countries. The executives identified the importance of an adaptable workforce that can rapidly respond to changes in the outside market and leadership to guide individuals through change and deliver results. These companies also cited a lack of leadership capability as one of their top workforce challenges.

Successful organizations are acutely aware of the need for leadership development and the numerous benefits of leadership training:
• “The goal of leadership is to help people find their voice, where needs in the organization and marketplace overlap with talent, passion and conscience. When people truly find their voice, they don’t need to be supervised; they manage themselves because their motivation is internal rather than external.”
~Stephen Covey

• Improved morale: People need to have the feeling they are learning, growing and developing new skills. This keeps them engaged.

• Training helps people get connected to their company. To develop and share common goals. They believe more in their company and want it to succeed. When people start moving in the same direction with a common goal, they create a culture that will propel their company to success.

• Growth is change, and it will not happen without a shift in culture that changes the way employees work, act, innovate, talk, learn and collaborate. One of the greatest challenges an organization faces is changing its business culture. Training helps organizations create this culture shift by moving people out of their comfort zones and into the leadership behaviors that drive success.

• A 2008 leadership training study by Metrika-Phoenix found that leadership training strongly influenced behaviors that improve performance at work. The survey had a higher than 72% response rate, a confidence level of 97.5% and a margin of error less than 5%. Over 92% of training participants reported improvement in the following behaviors:
-Increased understanding of how their behavior impacts other people
-Willingness to take additional risks and push themselves.
-Greater willingness to support others and work as a team.
-They hold themselves and others to higher standards of accountability
-The ability to express more passion and enthusiasm.
-Greater self-confidence and a sense of increased self potential.
-More awareness of the potential in others.
-They are developing better focus on tasks and are getting better at showing initiative.

• The only thing that increases productivity within an organization is people. People are the only asset that appreciates in value. People may be developed and their performance improved. All other assets like buildings, equipment and systems deteriorate and depreciate.

• Talent shortages require organizations to focus on developing and retaining talent.

• When employees feel appreciated, they are more likely to stay with a company. Many employees feel training improves their opportunities for advancement and thath they receive the necessary tools to be more effective at work and in their personal lives. “Having employees whose work and personal lives are balanced has tangible benefits—both for the employees and the organization overall—including an increased ability to attract and retain skilled people and higher production, satisfaction, and morale.”
~Joan Gurvis

More than ever, it is imperative that organizations continue to invest in their people. The current economic challenges associated with globalization demand that organizations change their approach and develop new leadership skills. It is critical that employees are more focused, confident and effective than ever before. To be effective, successful leaders will partner with outside organizations to develop their skills and serve as role models and mentors.

The ultimate responsibility to develop leadership lies with the entire organization. Effective outside partnerships are not enough. HR departments acting alone are not enough. Potential leaders must be identified and provided with direction, opportunity and guidance in order to develop. When the entire organization understands the benefits of developing leaders and works together, the necessary cultural ingredients to adapt and thrive will exist.

Sources:
IBM Global Human Capital Study (2008).
Kotter, J.P., Leading Change

Seize the Moment!

Seize Title We live in a great country where every day, every moment, you and I have the happy opportunity to make choices: Each morning we can get up early or hit the snooze button; watch TV or read a book; rent a movie on Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, etc. or go to the theater; go to college or not; work in the private sector or public; meet minimum performance standards and just get by, or obliterate them. You can let work and life happen to you or seize the moment and make life extraordinary! Seize the moment cliffYou are the captain of your life. While it is true that we may not choose all of the circumstances of our lives, we may absolutely choose our response to circumstances and we may learn to influence and change our circumstances. At the end of the day do you look back at your actions and say; “I gave it everything I had!”? Does there have to be some great project, mission or opportunity for you to get engaged, or are you willing to give it everything you have with everyday things: Every phone call, every conversation, and every assignment no matter how small?! Many of us live waiting for what is next. We say things like: “I can’t wait to get to high school.” “I can’t wait to get out of high school.” When we get out of high school and get a job…”I can’t wait to get a job I like.” When in college…”I can’t wait to graduate.” When single…”I can’t wait to get married.” When married…”I can’t wait to be single.” With small kids…”I can’t wait until my kids grow up.” We can’t wait to have money when we have little, when we have abundantly, we can’t wait to have more. Many of us live on someday isle. “Someday I’ll be home in time to read my children a story and kiss them goodnight!” “Someday I’ll get in shape!” “Someday I’ll finish my degree!” “Someday, I’ll do what it takes to earn a Seize the moment romancepromotion!” We live on someday isle where opportunities pass us by while we are waiting for the “significant” things in our lives to happen. I believe a great indicator of how people will perform in a defining moment is how they perform every day. Make right now your great moment! When you share a conversation, make it great…be present, be invested! When you are given a task you think is beneath you-crush it! Come back to whomever assigned it to you and report it complete ahead of schedule and under budget. You want to prove your value on great things? Prove your value on everyday things. Otherwise, all too soon, our children are grown with children of their own, our careers are over and our short time on this earth is coming to a close and we have failed to act and seize many of the opportunities available to us. Seize the moment TeddyAs the Captain of your life, you have the responsibility to LEAD yourself where you want to go. I don’t believe you need to have followers to be a leader. Start with leading yourself. The word “leader” is derived from Greek and Latin words which mean “to act”. Leadership is not about title or rank, it is about the ability to act and “impact”. Make a positive impact on every person you meet, in every game you play, with every job you undertake! Taking charge and leading your life takes courage. Think of your life to come as Louis and Clark might have approached the vast uncharted Louisiana Territory. We have many choices: We can stay safely in “St. Louis” and enjoy vicariously the adventures that lie beyond the horizon; we can venture out, but stick to the easy trails; However, if we want real adventure, if we want to make a real impact, we must do with our life’s opportunities what Lewis and Clark did in the Louisiana Territory-get off the beaten path and seize new opportunities! It is time to leave complacency and comfort zones behind. It is time enjoy the moments of your life right now. It is time to make a positive impact. It is time to act and seize the moment and make life extraordinary!!

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