School is where we go to learn the lessons, then take the test. However, in the school of life, tests come first and then hopefully we learn the lessons. And we keep repeating the lesson (and test) until we learn it!
We’ve often heard the expression “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” By extension, that means failure and obstacles are good things. Yet this thinking for the general populace doesn’t seem to apply to leaders.
When these concepts are applied to leadership it can take the form of a career requirement. Steven Snyder, author of Leadership and The Art of The Struggle, argues “struggle and leadership are intertwined… Great leaders use failure as a wake-up call.”
Yet, our culture, and the media that propels it, favours promoting leaders as faultless — a Teflon-like image. As Bill George argues, we quickly turn away from leaders who have made mistakes and the media tries to bury them.
Despite the substantial amount of psychological research and anecdotal evidence that demonstrates how failure and adversity can be of great benefit to leaders, we continue to insist on perfection.
Snyder argues that great leaders…
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