1) Courteous good will; 2) A divinely given talent; 3) To confer honor or dignity upon.
Rise above pettiness to forgive and forget. All great leaders demonstrate grace; they restrain and reserve their opinions. This essential attitude helps eliminate the fear of failure present in so many followers. Without tolerance for failure, we become risk-averse and unimaginative – the very opposite of the innovative and intra-preneurial qualities organizations claim to encourage.
Catch mixed messages. Stay vigilant about allowing these to creep into daily behaviour. For example, early in a company’s history experimentation is often an accepted part of running the business. Some efforts fail while others succeed. Over time, if knee-jerk reactions in the face of failure are allowed to grow, the original culture that attracted bright stars now repels.
Recognize that results and effort is not always the same thing. It is truly possible for a company to be running at 110 percent capacity, fully staffed by dedicated people, and for the business to not achieve its planned results. Despite augmenting the talent pool and superhuman daily efforts, results can actually decline to worrisome lows. Despite everything, efforts can fail to translate to the bottom line.
Balance results and effort. Soul-inspiring leaders stand by a balanced view of performance that is more characterized by gracious rather than institutional traits. They think carefully before creating environments too structured or filled with artificial expectations to enable a healthy balance between focus on results and experimentation.
Stay open as opposed to tightening up. Retrenchment actually sets up a collision course with failure. While panic-stricken managers move into a blame game of singling out “weak links” not focusing on results, competitors simultaneously push the envelope and thereby gain momentum. Blaming to communicate “how serious the situation is” does no one any service.
Stay away from rewarding mediocrity with undue patience. The cost of failing to “make plan” is steep, especially in companies whose stocks are traded on public markets. Punished by analysts, market-makers and the media, any company that does not make plan is instantly on its way to disaster. Soul-inspiring leaders do not “wait forever” but neither do they punish effort at the first sign of failure.
Remember what it is like to learn a new skill. Surely, those around you (parents, coaches and teachers) did not give up on you when you were younger, learning a new skill, sport or subject in school. Indeed, the more appropriate response was to reward effort, and to focus on the path that eventually got you to where you wanted to be. The same holds true for people in organizations.
Questions For Reflection
What connections do you see between a feeling of safety from being judged solely on your results and your ability to be creative?
What kind of impact do you think more grace could have on your workplace and on your relationships?
How does the environment in which you were raised influence your reaction to this theme and your ability to demonstrate grace toward others?