Earlier this week I was presenting in front of a group of successful entrepreneurs, each of whom had built a business from scratch and turned it into a $10m+ company. As they talked about their businesses you could see the passion for their company oozing out of their pores. They had “made it” by almost every definition of the word but you could tell that their entrepreneurial spirit hadn’t waned. Their success had afforded them more control over their time but they certainly weren’t resting on their laurels. They were passionate about growing their businesses. This post is my first in a series on Leadership in Small Companies vs. Big Companies and covers how small companies can be more focused on hiring for passion.
When executives are allowed to hide their innovation failures the entire organization suffers. False expectations are set for the entire group of executives, innovation leaders see their careers scuttled, and every other employee fails to learn from the failure. Without clear organizational expectations of documenting, sharing, and learning from our failures we will continue to see them covered up. Left to our own devices we will naturally seek to avoid our failures and move into self-preservation mode. In my work helping organizations to build strong innovation processes this is a common issue but it can be resolved.
Everyone credits Steve Jobs for the success of Apple but where would Apple be without their “failed” former CEO John Sculley who had to oust Steve Jobs from the company he founded? Not to say that their contributions were both equal but they were both instrumental in shaping Apple for its incredible success. It is well understood that organizations need different types of leaders at different times. Sometimes organizations need a good failure to create the drive that will propel them toward success. And sometimes leaders find their passion within the boiling animosity of working relationships. All of these situations were found with the Steve Jobs vs. John Sculley saga at Apple. So how can we learn from them?
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