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Why CEOs Telling the Truth About Failure Isn’t Weak

We get it. You were put on this earth to lead your startup to glory, through thick and thin and tumultuous times and you are there to provide consistency and leadership to all employees.

Startups can expect hard times as a rite of passage, especially if in crypto and staring down the barrel of a bear market. Often success hinges on the ability of leadership to ride out the storm and keep people on task and motivated.

This is a part of corporate life. As Tom Watson, the founder of IBM says: “Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure — or you can learn from it.”

Opening up About Your ‘Exes’

It follows that any reasonable CEO can openly talk about previous experiments in entrepreneurship as these experiences can be highly instructive.

No one likes a person who talks constantly about ‘the one that got away’ but a culture of openness across all employees, including leadership, helps bring together ideas and lessons learned from companies which folded.

Around 90% of startups fail, so there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Those who can pick themselves up, get a new team together and try again are going to be much better positioned than someone who carries the burden of failure as an albatross around their neck, unable to accept the lessons and move on.

Experience Shows

Veterans in any industry will attest to the fact people pay for their knowledge and skill, not necessarily how long it takes them to do something.

Tech innovators such as startup CEOs have a slightly less straightforward path than your average tradesman in the sense they don’t necessarily go to school to discover the basics. But learning is similarly done in the field, where if you encounter a problem once or twice, you are far more likely to be able to handle it in a timely and efficient manner.

In a time of crisis, you don’t want a leader who has seen success after success with no hint of failure. What you want is the grizzled veteran with knowledge of how to tighten belts and muddle through without suffering significant cutbacks and layoffs. 

Showing You’re Not Deaf

It’s important a CEO shows they are attuned to the world around them. Conventional wisdom says those who rise to the top of an organization tend to exhibit more narcissistic traits alongside other psychological issues. Accepting they are wrong does not always come easy.

But an honest outlook on the fortunes and future of a company can be integral to success. Knowing the company’s position in the market and adjusting strategy accordingly, being aware of when an employee has a good point counter to their own beliefs. These are crucial aspects which are neglected by the CEO who cannot talk about failure or mistakes.

Stereotypically, the high-flying leader is a megalomaniac. But the tremendous task of making a startup successful requires a more holistic, open-eared approach which values its employees’ opinions. Because they might have seen their fair share of failure, too.

In a nutshell, never making the same mistake twice will serve any CEO very well. There is no handbook, but simply the lived experience of both themselves and the people they work with.

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