Candidate #1 – “I thoroughly prepare and plan for situations. I then meticulously and consciously execute the plans to eliminate mistakes; I rarely fail. Measure twice, cut once is always my mantra.”Candidate #2: – “Though I never enter a situation intending to fail, I do make mistakes. For instance, last month I missed my sales goal because I overestimated the strength of my relationship with a key buyer. I learned I needed to not take the orders for granted and to work hard at post-sale activities even when I think the sale is a done deal.”
Which candidate would make the best hire – one who over prepares and rarely makes mistakes or the one who is willing to make mistakes but learns from them?
Not only is it important to hire people who are willing to make mistakes, but it’s also important to foster an environment where making mistakes is embraced. Jeff Stibel, a neuroscientist and Vice Chairman at Dun & Bradstreet, has gone as far as to create a “failure wall” when he was Chairman and CEO at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. where everyone in the company was encouraged to post their mistakes. The wall, initiated with Stibel’s own failures, quickly filled up with many failures and the organization grew rapidly as employees embraced new and creative approaches knowing that failure was okay.
Leaders who empower their organization to make mistakes experience more long-term success.