Failure is a word greatly feared in the world of business. Self-esteem is in danger every time you fail. It may become a burden, paralysing and frustrating you; it may even become a stigma. And yet, it also has a positive angle and can be very profitable. With the right attitude it can strengthen and teach you. The important thing is to know how to face it and get up again after a fall. Failure is generally much more instructive than success. With the right attitude, each failure is followed by a period of reflection that reveals mistakes made. Those who know how to do this end up proud of their defeats, their war wounds.

Winston Churchill put it very succinctly, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” It is part of the journey and necessary for learning something new. Even so, leaving your comfort zone is risky. This means that leaders who wish to harvest their teams’ maximum creative potential will have to support and even publicly reward the daring and courage of those who step out of their comfort zones and take chances that could lead to failure. The word “publicly” is very important. If the reward is not visible, it will have much less impact, only affecting the recipient. When reward is visible to others and when recognition is public, it produces a multiplier effect that extends to include the full team.

Of course, not all disasters should be rewarded. Rewards should go to those who risk something (reputation, etc.) to achieve a difficult but valuable goal. Consequently, programmes must be established that acknowledge successes and reward intelligent failures from which all can learn.

How can this be achieved? Designing an effective recognition and reward plan, a plan that motivates people, requires an excellent understanding of human psychology – of people’s needs and desires. It is not sufficient to understand how groups function. Individual qualities must also be acknowledged. To begin with, a good knowledge of available motivational mechanisms is required.

Fortunately, financial rewards are not the only motivational tools available. Professional prestige can also be a significant lever. It is a fact that most people need to have their efforts acknowledged. This means that public rewards involving actions that stimulate prestige are usually very effective. Each company and each manager must develop their own formula.

Más información sobre este tema en el libro Ingenio, Sexo y Pasión, publicado por LID Editorial y escrito por Silvia Leal Martín.