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Two Failures In Leadership

May 7, 2019 | Timothy Haines

When I first started in the field of digital marketing (we just called it social media marketing back then), I was a lone wolf. Growing up as an only child, I found that a natural place to be. Me. Myself. I.

But then a vision started to unfold. I came to understand that if I really wanted to create digital transformation of any kind, it wouldn’t be possible with just one person. I needed help ‘painting the fence.’

One talented person at a time, the Symposia team began to build up. We collected around a shared mission of leveraging the power of digital marketing to further the message of organizations here in the Midwest.

And slowly but surely, I realized that my role was to be the leader of that team.

Without a great coach, even the best sports teams tend to produce more failures than wins. As a team, Symposia is knocking our wins out of the park this year. However, as a leader, I have my own list of failures that have become more clear as our team has grown and daily pressures have increased.

Personally, I am wildly enthusiastic in general and extremely comfortable with conflict. These attributes, like any, are often a double-edged sword. Below are my two biggest failures so far this year as a leader–and how I plan to learn from them to the betterment of our team.

Pushing the Wrong Way
It is important to be able to move things forward. Sometimes the team, an individual, or a client needs a bit of encouragement in the right direction. But I have found that sometimes I go about this the wrong way. In my determination to get something to move forward, I can forget the value of gentleness and kindness; doing so undermines the entire objective. If you are careless, you can hurt someone, causing their natural response to stop and react to that aggression rather than moving forward on the issue. When done right, pushing can be very helpful–and I am learning how to encourage the right way.

Forgetting to Celebrate
My wife and I recently purchased and moved into our first house in Holland after living in Grand Rapids for a few years. In preparation, I had been on a mission for three solid weeks to get things done. Between all the packing, paperwork, and phone calls, it occurred to me that we’d never celebrated the fact that we just bought a house. We hadn’t really celebrated the great time we had living in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. As a leader, I’ve made this same mistake far too many times.

When the entire team is working toward an important milestone, I sometimes forget to celebrate reaching it. There are always going to be more tasks on the to-do list. There are always going to be more goals to reach. But it’s important to stop and celebrate. A true leader takes pause to note what has been accomplished before just moving to the next thing.

So take the time to celebrate the successes, the milestones, the joy. It makes the journey sweeter.