My name is Henna Inam. I founded Transformational Leadership Inc. after a 20-year corporate career to help organizations develop, engage and retain their female talent. My company helps women realize their potential to be transformational leaders who drive breakthroughs in innovation, engagement, and growth.  Here are some ways we can work together:

1) Executive Coaching for women leaders,

2) Seminars and speaking for mixed audiences

3) Consulting for more diverse talent pipelines

To access our free resources, I invite you to join our Facebook community, view videos on Mentor TV, subscribe to the latest blog updates.

Here’s to you igniting your own fire & keeping it burning!

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Brazil World CupBrazil’s recent loss in the World Cup semi-finals has been called “the worst World Cup loss in history”. It broke many records (number of goals scored in a semi-final, worst loss suffered by any host nation, Twitter record).  How Brazil rebounds from this failure will determine whether they will make it in the top three when they face Netherlands on Saturday.  In addition to the public disgrace, we can only imagine the private hell each member of the team is going through.  How to rebound from failure of such epic proportions? How to pick yourself up quickly to regain confidence before the Saturday match to even make it to the top three? These are questions that face each of us as we encounter failure for ourselves, and failure by those we lead.

Why Focus on Failure?

Failure is an excellent teacher. Hypothetically. Most of the people I know (including myself) don’t actually want to experience failure ourselves.  It’s just too painful! Yet, innovative cultures require a greater agility in being tolerant of and channeling the lessons of failure.  Leaders of the future need to figure out how to help teams process failure quickly and effectively if we want to invite innovation into our organizations.  Ironically, I learned something about coaching others through failure by failing at it myself. Here’s what happened and what you can learn from my failure.

A Failed Approach to Getting Through Failure

Recently, I was chatting with a friend of mine who had just lost her job. She didn’t have a lot of savings to support herself. On top of that her personal computer crashed and she had the added expense of buying a new computer. She wasn’t having a good week and was really down on herself.

Here’s what I said to help her feel better: “I understand how you’re feeling. I wouldn’t want to be in your place either” (ouch!). “Don’t be so hard on yourself, things will get better”. “You didn’t want to be working for that moron anyway!” “Hey! How about we brainstorm a list of opportunities for you?” Sound familiar? Most of us try some well-intentioned versions of the above in order to make the uncomfortable feelings of failure go away as quickly as possible.

The Wrong Approaches

If you find yourself doing any of the following like I did, kindly stop. It didn’t work.

  • Telling them that they shouldn’t feel what they’re feeling (cheer up!)
  • Telling them what they did wrong, what they can learn from it and how to avoid it in the future
  • Giving them possible solutions to the problem they’re facing
  • Telling them they did nothing wrong. It was really someone else’s fault.

Failure is a Process that must be Processed

As I learned from another one of my other failures, failure is a process that must be processed before we’re ready to embrace the lessons.  In each step of the process the role of the leader (as the coach) is different. Overall the role of the coach is to move the person from blaming others or blaming themselves to choosing to take an empowered perspective, learning from the failure, and regaining confidence.

Step 1 – When we fail, our first instinct is to blame someone else. Most of us get stuck in Step 1.  There can be no learning or growth for us if we’re stuck here because to get a better outcome someone else must change. The role of the coach here is to help the person process their emotion (anger, hurt, frustration, etc.) and move them through the process.

Step 2 – Sometimes we get to Step 2 after Step 1 or we just start at Step 2, blaming ourselves or feeling like helpless victims of circumstance.  The inner critic or victim shows up.  There is very little power available to us if we get stuck in this perspective.  The role of the coach here is to help the person process their emotion (self-hate, frustration, shame, anger aimed inward) and get them to Step 3.

Step 3 – Experience compassion for ourselves and others. This is a pivotal third step. In this we see that we’re human. We made mistakes, but just because we failed, it doesn’t make us a failure.  The role of the coach is to help the person get to a wiser and more balanced perspective.

Step 4 – Learn from the experience. It is very hard for new perspectives and new learning to be created when people are stuck in their Step 1 and Step 2 emotions.  The role of the coach is to help the person see the lessons from the failure, understand the opportunity for learning, and see how the failure has made them stronger and more resilient. It is the critical step toward greater self-confidence.

Step 5 – Get back in the match and try a different approach. The coach’s role is to champion the person and encourage them to incorporate their learnings into new actions to be taken from a place of greater resilience and wisdom.

I hope this helps us all practice learning from failure.  One failure, no matter how epic, doesn’t stop us unless we choose to let it. I hope team Brazil will rise to fight the good fight on Saturday against Netherlands. May the most resilient team win!

A version of this post first appeared on my Forbes leadership blog.

If this resonated for you, please comment, subscribe, and share with others.

Additional Blogs on this Topic:

Cultivate Courage to Fail

Five Steps from Fears to Fierce

Henna-Inam-Professional-Photo-ColorThis article was written by Henna Inam, CEO of Transformational Leadership Inc.  Her company works with organizations to help women realize their potential to be authentic, transformational leaders. Her clients drive breakthroughs in innovation, growth, and engagement. Her corporate clients include Coca Cola, UPS, PwC, Novartis, J&J, and others who know female leadership talent is good for business. To accelerate your own growth connect with her here. Connect on Twitter @hennainam.

 

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Independence-DayJuly 4 is Independence Day in the United States. It commemorates the day in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed, declaring independence from Great Britain. We celebrate our freedom with fireworks, family gatherings, parades, barbeques and apple pie. We honor those who have fought and fight now to help us sustain our freedom.  Can we also use this day to honor the leader in ourselves and others who fights for freedom in the exercise of leadership?  Truly authentic leaders exercise the following five freedoms in their leadership. Are you? [continue reading]

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Juggling stressDo you find yourself in high-stress mode these days? Corporate restructuring?  Change that happens faster than our capacity to absorb it? More work than most of us can handle? No wonder most of us find ourselves off-kilter.  As I have personally discovered, and recommend to many of my executive coaching clients, there is one leadership practice that is indispensable in these times.  It is finding time every day to rebalance and center to our most emotionally intelligent selves.  Whether we are preparing for a tough negotiation, managing an impossible workload, juggling work and personal commitments, leading in uncertain times, or striving toward our most important goals, having access to our most wise and present self is critical to success.  Here is what I recommend to my executive coaching clients for a daily practice. [continue reading]

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Forbes Women SummitIn May 2014, I had the opportunity to be part of a group of about 50 women leaders from across the U.S. who met in New York City for a salon dinner as part of the Forbes Women’s Summit. Among us we had Carly Fiorina (former CEO of Hewlett Packard, at one time the only female CEO in the Fortune 50), the newly announced CEO of the AARP, Jo Ann Jenkins, senior executives from IBM, Microsoft, Costco, McKinsey, CEO’s of technology start-ups as well as major non-profits. Here is how this group of high powered women redefined power. [continue reading]

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Wonder Woman

Do you find yourself in situations where you know what the right behavior is, but are unable to actually act on it? Did you know that your body can actually help you to shift your behavior?  I am finding in my executive coaching work that my clients create faster and more sustained shifts in their leadership behaviors when they tap into the wisdom in their bodies. The latest neuroscience research on the mind body connection shows us how much of our leadership behavior is actually embodied.  To change this behavior requires us getting in touch with what is happening in our bodies.  Yes, all that reprimanding from my mom about “don’t slouch”, “watch your posture”, “smile, it will make you feel better” actually works!

According to this TEDTalk by Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy “Your body language shapes who you are“ our bodies can actually help us change our minds, change our behavior, and significantly improve our leadership outcomes. In her research, candidates who embodied certain power poses (like those by Wonder Woman) prior to job interviews got the job! I had a chance to interview one of the leading embodiment experts, Richard Strozzi-Heckler of the Strozzi Institute about how we can connect and learn from our bodies to grow in our leadership.

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Spring2As spring bursts forth, are you feeling how nature is coming alive? I watch the bright new leaves on the trees, hear the symphony of the birds chirping, feel the drizzle of the rain on my face.  Within this aliveness there is a palpable energy of possibility, creativity, and growth. The aliveness in spring is the same aliveness I find in the most inspiring leaders. It’s the resonant energy we feel in organizations, cultures, and teams that are innovative, engaged, and pulse with possibility.  It is the kind of aliveness I believe we all deserve to feel – a spring in our step. Ask yourself, how alive do I feel right now? How many of us feel this alive in our work? Judging from the employee engagement survey results, the number would be only 30%. Here are five steps to be a more inspired and resonant leader.

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SpringI was walking in my garden last week and it inspired me to write this post.  Spring is blooming here.  Most of us look forward to the change of the season.  It made me wonder why we resist change in other aspects of our lives.  Aren’t we all part of the natural world and thus subject to it’s laws of constant change? Why do we expect the changes of the seasons, the tides, the very revolving of the earth in orbit, and resist the changes in organizations, jobs and careers? As we resist change, we stay stuck in leadership behaviors that no longer serve us.  I decided it was time for me to create my own ritual for spring cleaning just like cultures and faith traditions around the world.  We clean our houses, our closets, clean out the winter rubble in our gardens to plant seeds for the new season. Why not take the time to spring clean our leadership? Here are five steps I’m taking. [continue reading]

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Work-Life Logo- Tricia MalloyIn our virtually 24/7 connected world there are very few people who are fully satisfied with their work life balance. I usually find myself racing from one task to another. I don’t take the time to relish the feeling of accomplishment.  Often my mind is usually on the next task to be done rather than being present to the opportunities to enjoy the task at hand.  I recently connected with author and speaker Tricia Molloy. I asked her to share with me her wisdom on the topic of work life balance for my own learning and to share with our blog community.  Here are seven strategies she shared. [continue reading]

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Mentor-circleEver consider group coaching or mentoring to engage and grow leaders in your organization? When women come together in a circle miracles happen. Communities prosper. Women are empowered. Change happens for the better. Whatever we can envision together, we can make happen together. This is my belief. It is also part of our DNA and how our brains evolved. Research shows that women tend to best cope with stress by “tending and befriending” vs. the “fight or flight” response experienced by men.  In our early history we gathered together around fires, sharing stories to teach and pass along wisdom, to support each other, to participate in rituals and rites of passage, to celebrate life and death. 

Now we gather together in conference rooms, online communities, Starbucks, and church basements to connect, to relate, share hobbies, and to work on common goals.  It could be for mentoring, for a cause we believe in, or simply to lose weight.  Circles are part of our DNA.  Thanks to Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In Circles” are everywhere. In my coaching work, I often work with organizations to help them to get group coaching and mentoring circles started.  The objective of a mentoring circle is for a group of leaders to come together to help each other grow in their leadership, and support each other to meet goals.

Here are five rules for leading a successful mentoring circle (thanks to the persistence of Colleen, one of our blog community participants who asked for this). [continue reading]

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Five Steps to Own Your Development Plan

Are you wondering what’s next for your career?  I always love it when I get e-mails from our blog community about the challenges they are facing. The e-mail I got recently inspired me to write a blog post on the topic. Jane (not her real name), is someone who wants to really grow her leadership. [...]

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