Lessons from the Links - The Most Important Part of Failure

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If you golf, you may want to invite me along.

While I am good enough to keep up with most golfers, you certainly don't have to worry about me beating you.

The thing is, I know what one of my major problems is... but it's been difficult to fix.

I address the ball with all the finesse of a pro.

I have a nice, smooth back swing.

I connect solidly with the ball. (Don't you just love the sound?)

Then the damn thing goes madly off in all directions.

I know that it usually is sometimes difficult to get advice... especially on a golf course, but one day a brave soul watched my swing and told me he thought he saw what my problem was.

"You are not following through."

It turns out he was right.  If I summoned every bit of concentration I had to focus on remembering to continue the arc of the club, the ball went off in the intended direction more often than not.

But the problem for me was that without focussing on it, I quickly reverted back to my old style of play.

Which leads me to the topic of today's post.

While leadership blogs tend to focus on positive things, every leader needs to understand what to do when things aren't going well, when mistakes are made, and how to recover from them.

Which is why I've seemed to spend quite a bit of time lately on failure.

In my post Your team messed up. Now What?, I highlighted how important it is for you as leader to quickly move to take responsibility, make corrective changes, and then publicly own up to the problems - even to the point of offering an apology.

As important as it is, the apology is just the beginning, and all the recovery momentum you created in your initial reactions can be quickly lost if you go back to business as usual.

Like my golf game, your follow through is critical to the direction you go.

You have said you are sorry and that things will change.

So what's different?

Do the people impacted by your mistakes see the difference?

How are you connecting with them on a regular basis?  How are you getting feedback?

Without follow up, your personal credibility and trust in your IT department can evaporate quickly.

Without the trust, it's next to impossible for you and your team to be viewed as a valuable contributor to your organization.  It's a frustrating place to be.

Almost as frustrating as my golf game when I forget to follow through.


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