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How to fail (for leaders)

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Recently, I had the terrible privilege of watching a leader fail. Here’s how it happened:

1.    Failure to communicate. The leader did not communicate with his team but left them to their own devices. The team members did not communicate with one another. The lack of communication caused them to make mistakes, and the mistakes caused them to fail. The leader remained silent.

2.    Failure to believe success is attainable. As the team’s performance worsened, their leader asserted his belief that the team was incapable of success. His failure to believe was immediately and irrevocably adopted by his team members. He didn’t believe, so they didn’t believe. He infected them with his belief that they could only lose. And that became their reality.

 3.    Failure to inspire and motivate. The leader said nothing to inspire or instill confidence in his team. When they needed his encouragement, he withheld it, instead showing a lack of interest in—and sometimes his contempt for—his team members. He made no effort to help them turn things around.

4.    Failure to demand success. The leader failed to demand that his team members give their all, that they do their very best. Instead, he led them toward failure. Perhaps they would have failed anyway, but the leader should have demanded more of them and refused to allow them to fail. He allowed them give up on themselves instead of demanding they give their all.

If you’re called to lead others, take a lesson from this failed leader and avoid these tragic mistakes.

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S. Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go