Some bosses are ruthless and demanding like Wall Street’s Gordon Gekko, while others are kind and understanding like Jules Ostin from The Intern. In his new book, “The Brilliance in Failure,” Sally Beauty CEO Chris Brickman lays out the case for a managerial style closer to the latter, one that welcomes healthy debate and creates an environment where employees aren’t afraid to speak up when they have ideas or to fail when things don’t work out.
“No matter how good somebody is or how brilliant they are, they’re going to be wrong sometimes,” Brickman said.
This kind of work environment also leads to higher worker satisfaction rates, which in turn leads to increased productivity. Executives who encourage employee input are also more likely to come up with creative, innovative business strategies, Brickman said.
Innovation is key when it comes to growing a business. To foster a culture where failure is acceptable, companies need to find low-cost ways to experiment with solutions. That way, if something doesn’t work out, the business incurs minimal losses. Testing something in a single city or state is a good way to reduce costs while exploring business strategies, Brickman said.
In his book, Brickman discusses the importance of learning from failure as an employee and, as an executive, creating a climate where people are comfortable sharing their opinions, something he said he sees every day in his employees.
His motivation to write the book came after receiving positive feedback at an MBA conference where he discussed failures he had endured throughout his career. He said the recent graduates appreciated how open he was about his shortcomings, and transparency is something any business leader can practice, whether they manage a Fortune 500 company or a small startup.
“When people believe you’re being totally honest with them, you get genuine input and genuine desire to succeed,” he said.
The biggest barrier to cultivating teamwork, transparency and a culture where failure isn’t the end of the world is often a manager’s inability to set aside their ego, Brickman said. Bosses must recognize their own weaknesses and welcome diverse ideas and opinions for a business to be successful. If employees feel disrespected or afraid to express themselves, a company could easily become “stale.”
“As a senior executive, it’s about creating an environment where people feel free to challenge you, and getting to the best answer for the company,” Brickman said.