Handle Failure For Your Success

Failure sucks and we lack tools to help us deal with it. Instead, we know more about how to be successful. You typically hear about how to do things right, but not much about how to handle a situation, or handle yourself, when things go wrong.

There are many lists detailing the habits or mindsets of successful leaders. The word “failure” doesn’t appear often (or at all in some cases), yet the word only given lip service as a needed thing to get success. Failure is an event that weeds out the weak from the strong. Whether you see failure as a plague or as a stepping stone to better things, you’ve got to understand it will happen.

Ideally, in surviving failure events, you’ll seize the opportunity to adjust your processes and gain more information—things you should do regularly—to get a better outcome next time for your career and your team. Here are four strategies to help you handle failure.


“Failure is an event, not a person.” ~ Zig Ziglar, author and salesman.

Managers like yourself can get stuck dwelling about a recent failure and then think of yourself as a failure. You contributed to failure, even if you did not directly cause it. However failure is an event and other events will follow it. You have another opportunity to get things to click (hopefully).


Remember the question from your interview, “How do you handle failure?” Your answer revealed your level of composure, energy, focus, and self-confidence. Do you have the guts to admit you made a mistake? Eating humble pie is hard, but you become stronger and a better leader. Your admittance to the mistakes enlightens you to reasons on how and why things went sideways.


Failure happens within (or to) organizations because of missing pieces—a person, insight, specialized experience, conviction, or common sense. You fail for many reasons. You need to improve by seeking help. Seek feedback from a trusted peer, a mentor, or your director. Get information from articles, podcasts, webinars, or books. You need to add to your bag of tricks so that you don’t crash and burn again.


In paraphrasing former Disney chief executive Michael Eisner, don’t fall into habit of being bad. It’s actually insane. Break the cycle by getting out of your comfort zone and gain traction into a new direction. You know your strengths and weaknesses because failure exposed them—capitalize on the opportunities to do something new and different!

Failure in general is when you decide to wash in mud instead of using soap to clean yourself up.  Pressing forward with these strategies will advance you past the event and take you to a step closer to success. Let the hard times provide you an opportunity to grow as a leader.


Denis Coleman

Denis Coleman is the founder and CEO of Work Compass, a cloud staff performance collaboration software platform that helps teams align their efforts with strategic goals and continuously improve performance. Frustrated with the disconnect between strategy setting and day to day execution and the lack of tools available to managers to help them be great at their most important function …. Aligning their teams activities with strategic goals and actively managing for high performance Denis spent over 5 years researching strategy execution and performance management practices before founding Work Compass to create a software solution. Denis has held senior roles in Ireland, Czech Republic and North America with high performing electronics manufacturing and professional services organisations for more than 12 years. Denis has worked as Finance Director responsible for €800 million in annual revenues for Flextronics International, Key Account Manager responsible for annual revenues of more than €600 million for Dovatron International and Management Consultant for BDO one of Europe’s most successful professional services providers.

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