Victory and Defeat

18 09 2012

“Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”  -John F Kennedy


JFK said this after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.  I think it was his way of saying “The buck stops here –  the failure was ultimately my fault”.  That brave trait is something that we could use more of in the business world.  All too often, we hear “it’s not my fault” or excuses for failure.  You’ve heard me talk about celebrating our failures, so enough said there.  It’s even more important to celebrate our successes.


I think a good leader should give credit and praise to their team loudly and publicly.  Don’t forget to put those “well done” memo’s in their personnel file, and not just the “oh no” documents.  When you have to have an “oh-no” conversation, do it privately, and try to find a silver lining (i.e. what did you learn from this mistake?).  I’ve seen multiple staff comments recently pointing out that their managers only talk to them when they’ve done something wrong.  This time of cultural change is a great time to make sure you’re giving out those “well done” comments, too.  “Take five” is a tool I’ve heard of in the past.  It’s a calendar item (or whiteboard note) you can create to remind yourself  to speak with 5 employees per week about something GOOD. 


If you’re not already doing so, consider “taking five”, otherwise, if all your team hears is the bad news, then whenever their phone rings, and they see it’s from you, they may feel what these guys below are feeling:


Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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