Some time back, I was speaking with a leader who was about to make a critical hire for their organization. We talked about the skills and capabilities necessary to be successful. Then he said something that surprised me. He wanted to make sure that the person had never had situations that had gone badly.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to spend a significant period of time driving operational risk management. Part of that effort was understanding why projects go sideways. Not surprisingly, a critical success factor was matching the needs of the project to the skills and capabilities of the project lead. I’ll never forget a comment made by a colleague. He said that people make the same mistakes. The key is to make sure it happens when the stakes are low so the learning can take place.
Back to the hiring decision. We had a good conversation about the value of making mistakes and learning from them, and understanding the conditions that led to previous success. In other words, was the candidate good or lucky? The key is to find someone that has learned in their career from both successes and failures, and because of it, has a robust tool box that can be deployed when appropriate. How are you creating a culture that focuses on learning and bringing that perspective into hiring?