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Mistakes Archives - The Military CEO

Tag: Mistakes

Barack Obama meets with General Stanley A. McChrystal in the Oval Office 2009 05 19.

The TED Talk That Changed The Way I Lead

The Beginning

I knew I wanted to join the Army well before i’d even gone to university, but at 15 there’s only so much you can learn about what it’s like to be an Officer. Naturally I began to Google and search around on the internet in the hope of finding some inspiration. However after several hours searching I realised no video or article was going to teach me how to lead. And that was the end of it.

5 Years Later

Fast forward a couple of years and i’ve commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the British Army’s leadership academy. Much more interested now to find leadership inspiration I turned back to the web. This time however my search took me to a series of TED Talks. If a TED Talk is new to you i’d certainly recommend giving a few a watch here. There was one particular TED Talk which I found absolutely awe-inspiring and i’d like to share it with you.

The TED Talk That Changed Leadership For Me

The TED Talk was delivered by 4 Star General Stanley McChrystal of the United States Army in March 2011. In his talk he shares with us his experiences of leadership over the decades and focuses on 2 key skills he feels are fundamental to successfully leading a team.

Leaders can let you fail but yet not let you be a failure

-General Stanley McChrystal

Listen, Learn… then Lead

Your Thoughts

In this post and many of my others I have expressed that to be a successful leader you must take full advantage of the extraordinary skills your team members likely have to offer. As a CEO or any other kind of team leader, what is the most desirable skill that you look for in an employee or team member? Let me know either at Your Thoughts or in the comments below and as always i’ll respond and may even elaborate in a future post.

-The Military CEO

5 Reasons You Need To Make Mistakes To Be Successful

Leadership is all about setting examples, developing yourself and those around you. Dealing with the insecurities we have is one of the most important steps when leading people around us. Once you have learnt to accept that people make mistakes and that making one doesn’t undermine your competency then you can really start to succeed as an individual and within a team.

One thing is certain in business. You and everyone around you will make mistakes.

-Richard Branson

This article will outline 5 reasons you need to make mistakes to be successful!

1. Creating an innovative and honest environment

When you make a mistake don’t try and cover it up, don’t even just deal with it, announce it! When those around you can see that messing up isn’t going to cost them their pride, or worse their job, people will start to be honest with their mistakes. Honest team members not only leads to better what we call in the Army damage limitation but people won’t be as afraid to push themselves.

Previously when i’ve allowed people to take risks without the fear of reprisal i’ve been astounded with the results my team have produced. For a business to succeed it needs a team of thinkers, not robots!

2. Everyone else can learn from your mistakes

Lets say a mistake costs you a deadline, a client or a load of money. Try and see that mistake as an opportunity to get everyone together, explain the mistake and work out a way to prevent it happening again. This could save your business a lot of money and associates a positive outcome from an otherwise negative action.

After every mission in the British Army we have something called an After Action Review (AAR). These present opportunities for the whole team to learn what worked well and what didn’t. The findings should always be recorded and slowly your business will develop a set of procedures referred to in the Army as doctrine.

If mistakes are made, learn from it and move on.

If mistakes are made, learn from it and move on.

3. Failure fuels your ambition

Who was the last millionaire you’ve heard of that hasn’t had hiccups along the way? You’ll be hard pushed to find a successful person who hasn’t suffered knock backs and that’s for a very good reason. We all know what failure feels like, it sucks, so nothing is a better motivation than that disappointment. When you’ve been close to the precipice of failure you know what it looks like and suddenly realise how much you’re going to try to avoid it.

4. A leader needs to be a people person

For people to respect you and subsequently want to be lead by you, you need to be human. To an employee the CEO can be some godly figure not subject to the ordinary laws of life. Don’t start to believe it! When (not if) you make a mistake and you admit it, you humble yourself. Being humble allows those around you to perceive your human nature. Subsequently you’ve just allowed your team members to aspire to be in a position such as yours. Employee success is the key to business success. I’ll soon be releasing a post explaining why you shouldn’t fear ambitious employees, they’re not coming for your job!

5. No one got rich without taking risks

Whether you’re thinking about expanding the business, adopting a new strategy or pursuing a niche in the market you’re taking a risk. But in every case there is the potential for great rewards.

It’s important to distinguish between a risk and a gamble. A risk is a calculated decision informed by sound predictions, a gamble can be made without any information. In the Army we judge risk by the probability of something happening vs the consequence of it happening.

Ultimately however without taking risks you’ll just continue to tread water until you become irrelevant. Once you have come to terms with the fact you might make a mistake if you take a risk, and be comfortable with failure, you can start to take more risks.

Have your say

When was the last time you saw a boss or colleague make a mistake and it be dealt with in a way that you thought was either detrimental or positive to the team cohesion? Let us know in the comments below or on Your Thoughts – as always i’ll try and reply and may even elaborate on your story in a further article.

-The Military CEO

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