The well documented fear of failure, amongst talent, has been a failure of leadership. The good news is that change is happening.

More has changed than many realise. The days of the dominant leader have gone. Leadership today is about creating safe, positive environments where talent can grow, take risk, have a voice and be able to fail. This impacts naturally on mental health and physical well-being as well as productivity.

One can argue the case but the traditional leader, who has been so revered over the years, no longer works in the modern environment. This can be seen by all the statistics which emerged over the last decade which has seen productivity fall, mental health concerns rise, emerging talent fail to break through to board level and the age of CEOs rise consistently each year. It is no longer good enough. The word “culture” was almost ignored, within companies for the last twenty years but today, it will be culture and environment which will breed the platform for success and see all the above issues be solved.

It is not rocket science. In days gone by, many companies not fire their people, they just moved them if they failed. They did have compassion for people and in return, they did have loyalty. People took pride from working with one company for many years. Moreover, with this security, talent did push the boundaries, took a risk and grew.
The heart of developing talent lies not in text books or theory but in creating environments for learning and growth mind-sets.

It is said that the test for all leaders lies in how we listen and adapt. Now could not be truer than it is at this very moment. The challenge for leadership teams and for HR is to listen, learn and adapt. The heart of developing talent lies not in textbooks or theory but in creating environments for learning and growth mindsets. This includes allowing talent to fail. The challenge for leaders, and for HR, is to create “safe” environments where talent can have their own voice, where there is honesty, where one can push boundaries and fail without concern for the consequences, within reason.

Sports teams will understand this. They, though, will say that the key is to have honest environments where teams can be honest to one another as that drives performance and productivity forward. To achieve that level of honesty is not easy and can be deeply uncomfortable at times but it also creates trust and friendship.

Leadership is today about creating environments of collaboration, by being inclusive, open-minded and being prepared to learn. This, in turn, will create a far more exciting environment for talent.

The well-documented fear of failure which exists is, at heart, a failure of leadership. The challenge for leaders is to adapt and change as the world is changing and without change, productivity and performance will not improve as hoped. It is going to need new thinking, new frameworks, new solutions but the result will be far better than what existed previously.

Let’s build back better. We all need to learn and to change.