Purposeful talent development: Are you teaching ‘leading for succeeding’?

Be sure your organization’s leaders don’t demonstrate ‘how not to fail’.

“Excellence is not the opposite of failure.” I heard Marcus Buckingham say this during his keynote at the May 2018 Association for Talent Development International Conference and Exposition. This interesting thought coming from the head of ADP Research Institute and a New York Times bestselling author bears some reflection. Think about those you’ve learned from throughout your career. Have you learned behaviors you want to emulate or avoid?

We know we can’t learn excellence by studying failure, but many times this is what we do. Whether it’s developing our careers or leadership or interacting with friends and family, we observe behaviors that cause us to say, “I don’t want to do that/be like that.” Less often do we look at another’s behavior and make a mental note of how we want to act.

As we move through our careers, we encounter what we consider to be “failed” leaders or leadership behaviors. We mentally make notes of the ways we don’t want to lead. However, if we study failed leaders, we only identify ways to not fail, as opposed to ways to succeed.


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