Recovery from failure – with a little help from a friend

by Jane Mason January 2010

I am delighted to be able to write that I have recovered my usual bounce.  All feelings of failure have flitted out the window.  I would be  even more delighted to be able to say “never to return” but that is unrealistic and anyway success needs failure just like light needs the darkness.  I was coaxed out of my feelings of inadequacy by a most excellent coach named Timothy Lauren who is a friend of an ex-client, a serious player and a giver of excellent advice and effective pep talks.  His advice to me was three fold:

1.  Ask myself whether I believed in what I was doing and in the solution I was recommending
2.  If so (ie if the “answer” is correct), ask myself what could be going on in the client to make them so resistant to it 
3.  Decide if there is anything I can do about it

My answers to the three questions were as follows:

1.  Yes
2.  Lack of clarity of roles and responsibilities (who is in charge of this place/project?)
3.  Try to sort it out directly and, if that fails, take it up a level

Whilst that all sounds very simple, when I was in the middle of a high emotion, high “noise” situation, I could not see my way through it and did not appreciate that in a hi gh “noise” situation the client is actually desperate for the consultant to just tell them what they need to do.  I have managed to sort the situation out locally in a totally win-win outcome but have decided I am going to take it up a level anyway. 

The reality is that my little situation is a symptom of the wider malaise in the organisation.  The Leadership Lurch and its initial fallout  has led to in-fighting, sub terfuge, bilateral deal making, confusion and chaos.  Few of the Board members is thinking clearly about the business although they are certainly thinking clearly about the safety of their own jobs which they are mistakenly linking to the success and size of their own functions, rather than to the success and size of the business overall and that is bad news for shareholder s.

Although there are a dozen things the CEO needs to do, Timothy’s excellent coaching was to give him two – and make them count.