Transformational Leadership and Failure

Transformational Leadership and Failure

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Many of the most successful leaders are those that are able to recognize the part played by failure on their way to success. Many leaders have failed many times in the pursuit of the visions and aspirations because of neglecting to acknowledge failure as an important component in their success. Failure in many ways has been seen as a negative thing that usually discourages many leaders from attaining their goals and those of the company. On the other hand, transformational leaders are able to see their failures as great sources of feedback for their ambitions. In this paper, we discuss the role of transformational leadership in dealing with failure.

Failure like success, is an indication of the areas or attributes of our lives that we should take a closer look at. Failure is a normal occurrence in life. Many leaders recognize that failure is a part of daily life and thus they are able to deal with it (Foster et al., 2016). One of the ways failure can be translated into a useful experience is learning to look at it as a lesson (Miragaia, 2018). The acknowledgement that you can learn from failure is the first step towards winning. According to Foster et al., (2016), when making decisions in leadership, many times good leaders give the people time to reflect on the failure and so they are able to correct themselves in the future. These behaviors are useful when aligning a team to a leadership vision.

Transformational leadership is about learning the culture of an organization and then expanding it with new visions and revisions (BASS, 1993). Transformational leaders see failure as part of success, they are able to recognize that in order to succeed, and that there are many instances of failure before success. With this mentality they are able to anticipate failure and work through it. They also recognize their part in the failure. Visionary leaders avoid passing the blame to other in a bid to relieve themselves of the guilt. When an employee fails to perform a task as instructed, a transformational leader would seek to know and correct the cause of the failure rather than reprimand or firing the employee. Choosing to help an employee to perform better and with confidence is a better way to get better results than replacing them.

Failure is an integral part of our life, when we fail, we recognize our short-comings, and therefore we are better equipped to deal with the problem next time it comes. Failure in leadership can be used a great tool for developing better performances from employees. When a leader fails in a certain undergoing, they accept the failure, take time to determine the lessons they can learn from it, and make a well informed decision from the lessons (Champion Jr et al., 2019).

After failing to beat a major team in a major competition finals, most of the people blamed the quarter back for the rather silly mistakes on the pitch. Dr. Jake, the head coach, saw an opportunity to teach the team about failure (Champion Jr et al., 2019). The team watched the film of the failure and realized that the quarter back was struggling with an overload and therefore unable to prevent the tries. Another example is a response given to a media reporter to a question about how the team would deal with the loss. The team captain took the blame for failing to recognize the mishap in the play and promised to work harder at it as a team.

There is tendency to view failure as a result of external factors on our lives rather than one of our own making. Transformational leaders know this to be untrue. They are able to see their role in the place of failure and therefore they are able to deliver the employee from the failure with a lesson (Champion et al., 2019). Dr. Jake is able to show the team that they fail because they do not see their role in it. When they learnt the lesson, they were able to beat all the teams that were better than them previously. Good leaders also seek to teach others from their failures, the coach sought to instill courage by teaching the players to deal with the failure in major competitions. He took time to help them understand the source of the failure and then walked them through the best ways to avert their guilt of losing to joyous winnings.

Being a leader requires that you motivate your subjects in all ways possible. In order to help the team up from relegation zone, Jake came up with a plan to help each team player to recognize their role in the face of failure so that they could rise above it, this helped them top the league standings the season after (Foster et al., 2016). Transformational leaders encourage a fail fast culture. If the team is going to try something relatively new, the coach would encourage them to try it quickly so that they know where and what to work on, as quickly as they can.

Taking time to deal with losses has helped many leaders to come from a point of failure to victory. This comes from the ability to not focus on the failure as much. When the team focuses so much on the failure, they lose the focus to take risk and perform with an expectation to win. This according to Reisel et al. (1995), is because of the loss aversion syndrome where we tend to focus on the magnitude of failure than success. Jake is able to boost the team spirit when he helps them to learn from their failure.

Many organizations don’t tolerate the culture of failure. When an individual in such organizations has had experiences with failure, they tend to shy away from innovative undertakings or trying new things in general. According to Miragaia (2018), this is because the individual fears the risk of being punished or losing their self-esteem. When an individual focuses on their failure other than their ability to take risk, they tend to feel less motivated to do it another time as they lack the leadership support they need. A culture of punishing failure in an organization, results in fearful behaviors and lack of innovation among the employees (Miragaia, 2018).


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Champion Jr, W. T., Karcher, R. T., & Ruddell, L. S. (2019). Sports Ethics for Sports Management Professionals. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Foster, G., O’Reilly, N., & Dávila, A. (2016). Sports business management: Decision making around the globe. Routledge. Miragaia, D. A. M. (2018). Sports Innovation Management. IJEBR, 528.

Reisel, W. D., & Kopelman, R. E. (1995). The effects of failure on subsequent group performance in a professional sports setting. The Journal of psychology129(1), 103-113.