Disappointment occurs when reality doesn’t meet expectations. Perhaps a family member, friend, or colleague did not behave the way they were expected. Maybe money did not arrive when it was supposed to. Perhaps you didn’t get the promotion that you went after. Maybe your team fell short of a performance goal. Perhaps your marketing campaign did not generate new customers. The list could go on and on. Disappointments can happen anytime and they can happen often. How do you deal with disappointment so that you do not become discouraged or give up? Here are a few ways you can deal with the disappointment in your life:
Leadership is a complex job description. There are varying definitions for leadership in research, yet every so often, leaders come along that defy the current definitions and add more dynamics to the accepted notions of leadership. Leaders find themselves defined by their success or failures. Success can bring life-long accolades while failures can end careers. There are many perspectives about what makes a good leader and a general idea about what makes a bad leader. Fortunately for bad leaders, there are strategies that they can use to become better leaders.
Characteristics of a Good Leader
In order to know what makes a good leader, it is helpful to understand what the leadership job description is. While many job descriptions refer to leadership abilities or leadership qualities, those are rarely defined. Mike Myatt defines leadership as:
The professed desire and commitment to serve others by subordinating personal interests to the needs of those being led through effectively demonstrating the character, experience, humility, wisdom and discernment necessary to create the trust [&] influence to cause the right things, to happen for the right reasons, at the right times (2012).
In light of that definition, Myatt also goes on to state, “there is no perfect leader; only the right leader for a given situation (2012). However, most researchers and writers agree on similar qualities that good leaders possess.
Characteristics of a Bad Leader
Just as there are good leaders, conversely, there are bad ones. Bad leaders are leaders who have failed or leaders who have succeeded but their methods were questionable. Failure is viewed in a variety of ways depending on the various industries, organizations, and results; however, there have been many prominent leadership failures over time. Most failed leaders have characteristics in common. These characteristics include feeling invincible, being paralyzed by fear, failing to grow, not being passionate, failing to dream, feeling entitled, and having a sense of victimization. On the other hand, other leaders have failed by gaining success at the expense of others. These leaders may have done things that are illegal, made decisions that were unethical, utilized unsound methodology, or settled for strategies that were not innovative.
How to Become a Better Leader
There is hope for leaders who do not start off great. Fortunately, there are strategies that they can implement to improve their performance as leaders. This includes:
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It happens to the best of us. You set a goal and fail to meet it. Maybe it’s a sales goal. Maybe it’s a performance goal. Maybe it’s winning a Super Bowl. Whatever the circumstance, falling short of a goal can be devastating and if you don’t know how to bounce back and help your team bounce back from defeat, it could have disastrous results. Here are a few helpful steps for recovering from a loss:
Taking ownership is accepting responsibility for actions or behavior. It's pretty easy to take ownership when something good happens--everyone wants credit for that. The challenge comes when bad things happen. Who's going to own up to that?
Taking ownership can be difficult when you or your team falls short. It's hard to admit that you aren't perfect, you make mistakes, and you messed up this time. Accepting responsibility for failure can be especially hard for over-achievers who define themselves by their success. When you make a mistake, you may wonder What will others think when they find out that I failed? Will I be defined by this mistake?
In order to take ownership, you must admit your shortcomings. When you shift the blame to someone else or make excuses for the failure, that is not taking ownership. When you take ownership, you are saying, "I did this. It's my fault. I messed up."
Owning up to your failures may be difficult and uncomfortable, but it will prove to be beneficial in the long run. Accepting responsibility for your actions saves time and energy for yourself and those around you. Instead of pointing figures, investigating who or what caused the failure, and causing conflict among team members, time can be spent resolving the situation. Taking ownership demonstrates your commitment to improvement. When you take ownership, you are saying to your team, "I will learn from this so that I can do better in the future." There is nothing to improve on if you are perfect, so admitting that you are not perfect and striving to become better at your job shows that you are growth-oriented. People respect leaders who are down-to-earth enough to admit their mistakes and do better in the future. Your peers and those you lead will respect your ownership of your mistakes.
We are human, so it's inevitable that we are going to fail at something. It is how we respond to that failure that defines our character and strength as a leader. Admitting that we have fallen short is the first step toward improvement and growth. Teams will thrive when all members know that they are growing and improving together.