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Turn mistakes into opportunities

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Jack Welch was sitting in on a midlevel manager’s demonstration of e-commerce, when something went embarrassingly wrong. The computer equipment failed. The midlevel manager was mortified.

What did Welch do? He turned to the group and asked, “If this happened in front of a customer, how would it have felt? What would you have done in that situation?”

In Welch’s eyes, this was a learning opportunity.

Leaders who excel at developing ­talent use every opportunity to squeeze in a learning moment. ­Mistakes, especially, are a prime ­opportunity.

What’s striking about Welch’s feedback is the form it takes: questioning. Powerful questions lead to deep conversations and learning.

Tip: When getting “Socratic” with direct reports, be sure to keep your advice in the background. You can always incorporate them into a later discussion.

Lesson: Look for development moments for employees, and elegantly weave them into conversations as Welch did.

—Adapted from Make Talent Your Business, Wendy Axelrod and Jeannie Coyle.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rick Lane February 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Great advice and you can’t go wrong using Jack Welch as your example for a great leader. Asking the right questions is also crucial to being a good executive coach.


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