If You Want To Create Great Things, Stop Punishing Failure

surrounded by sharks

H ow do you react when someone messes up? Say you work with or lead others in a group setting. Or this could apply to your family member, too.

How you react could make all the difference in the world. You can foster creativity and innovation or you can create a culture of fear and hesitancy. This is true for creative leaders but I think it’s also true for anyone working in a group creative einvironment.

Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, notes that recent research in neuroscience suggests that the fear of judgment runs much deeper and has more far-reaching implications than we ever imagined.

Prospect Theory is the idea that we fear loss more than we value gain. In other words, the fear that we might get in trouble is so intense that if there’s even a hint of judgment we will shut down our creative thinking.

The way you move past that is you demonstrate – i.e., you lead others – into an environment in which risk is normative, or at least acceptable. You stop punishing failure.

I can hear it now from some corners of the room – of course, you still name expectations. Of course you maintain a sense of accountability. But on top of those things, you respect your team.

The top way to do this is by getting rid of the sharks. Create a sense of safety and security. And the best way to create safety and security is through transparency.

As a creative leader, I try to tell “why” to my team, all the time. I want to them to know my motivations and the thinking behind my decisions. I also ask them their opinions on some matters.

Sometimes, I have to clarify that transparency isn’t permission to second guess my leadership, but that’s okay. Transparency creates empowerment, and empowerment when embryonic can come across as impertinence. I can coach my team through that to a healthy sense of mutual respect.

The downside of transparency is worth the trouble, because the upside is trust. When your team-members trust you, they are open about their passions, motivations, and dreams—their heart.

And if you listen (not just hear, but really listen) to their heart, they will give you their very best effort.

 

About the Author

Len Wilson

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Christ follower. Storyteller. Strategist. Writer. Creative Director @peachtreepres. Tickle monster. Think Like a Five Year Old (Abingdon, 2015).

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One Comment on ““If You Want To Create Great Things, Stop Punishing Failure”

  1. declan barrett

    Thank you very much indeed like
    I have a quest to fulfill and its in
    seeking Justice and like I have this
    task to do Wednesday with Justice
    in mind and like I was not looking
    forward to.as like I gotta recall past
    history of 26 years ago but your lesson gave me great help to do the job and I am very grateful to
    you for that I really appreciate your
    help Thank You and God Bless

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