Every mistake is an asset

Tuesday 6 December, 2016 | By: Andrew Griffiths | Tags: managing business, motivating teams, inspiring teams

I’m a strong believer in the need for any manager or business owner to be prepared to let their team fail. This concept might sound counterintuitive, or even mean, but in most instances, the lessons learnt from failure are actually far more meaningful than a lesson learnt any other way.  So by letting your team fail, you can actually go a long way to building a really cohesive group.


On a recent trip to Japan, I had the great fortune to meet a Japanese Garden Master, Mr Hiraki. He has been building and maintaining stunning traditional gardens throughout Japan for close to fifty years. I asked him how he managed young gardeners starting out in the industry and his response was not what I expected.

In his very considered way he explained that it was important for him not to exert his will on every detail of the work that his younger team members did. He had to be prepared to let them try new ideas, even if he knew they wouldn’t work. But rather than saying a certain idea wouldn’t work, he stood back and let the worker make the mistake and learn the lesson. He never gloated, or acted superior in any way, he simply made a point of acknowledging the worker for being brave enough to try something different.

Mr Hiraki quoted the following saying, “every mistake is an asset”. And when you think about it, these are very wise words. I know that over the years I’ve certainly learned far more from the mistakes I’ve personally made than from anything anyone has ever told me. It does however take a brave manager to be prepared to let a team member, or an entire team, fail, to help them grow.

It’s very easy to become a micro manager with our staff. Controlling everything they do and getting them to over report. I’ve rarely found that to be the way to create a dynamic team, one that will be high performing, engaged and capable of doing great things. We need to be prepared to give people responsibility even if that means letting them fail, in fact especially if that means letting them fail.

Boss and his Teamwork in a Start Up Company

I don’t think there is any doubt that managing and motivating a team is challenging. And for many leaders, working out their individual management style is just as challenging. We all have preconceived ideas about how we should act, how we should lead and how we should manage, but most of the time this is learned behaviour from bosses that we’ve had in the past. Sometimes it’s a good style and sometimes it’s not.

Learning to develop your own personal style as a leader is important. Being brave enough to try new techniques is important. Being open minded is important. I believe that building the strategy of being prepared to let your team fail into your arsenal is another important skill for any aspiring leader or manager. You might just be surprised by the results it yields.

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About the contributor:

Andrew Griffiths is Australia’s leading Small Business author with 12 books published and currently sold in over 60 countries. He is widely acknowledged as one of the leading minds in the Small Business space. He is a regular columnist on Inc.com out of New York, a Small Business commentator for CBS, a Mentor in the highly acclaimed Key Person of Influence programme and much more. Touting his own unique style of street-smart wisdom and inspiration, Andrew really is one of a kind. Website:http://www.andrewgriffiths.com.au 



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