Tips for Leading Your Team After Failure

BY Kathy Crosett
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If you and your team have just missed a big target or lost a huge account, it’s natural to feel discouraged. Burning the midnight oil and cajoling people to work harder than usual can take its toll on everyone, making a setback feel particularly painful. As a leader, you need to set the tone for what comes next.

Your team members will look to you for guidance after they’ve been impacted by a significant negative event. Whether it’s a corporate layoff, budget cuts or a lost account, it’s your job to re-​energize the team. At leadershipfreak​.blog, Dan Rockwell lays out several strategies you might want to try.


There’s nothing wrong with allowing team members to vent. They need to express frustration and have their feelings validated by the people they’ve been working in the trenches with. Once they’ve blown off steam, show your leadership skills by encouraging everyone to pick up the pieces and move on. It's fine to commiserate with everyone's unhappiness and frustration — to a point. But, be ready to suggest starting a new project and shift the focus to the future.

Working with Outliers

Not everyone will want to jump on the ‘move ahead’ bandwagon. If you’re faced with a team member who seems stuck in reverse, don't let her negative energy drag everyone else down. You also shouldn’t try to convince this person to change her thinking in a group setting. This is not an opportunity for an intervention, especially one that your staff member might not appreciate. Take her aside and speak with her privately. If she won't adjust her thinking, encourage her to refrain from sharing her negative outlook with the group.


You might feel more comfortable hiding out in your office or cubicle after a debacle. Your absence could be sending the wrong signal — that there's more trouble to come. Now’s the time to reach out and show humanity. People are nervous, especially if you’re in a situation where layoffs are looming. Start walking the floor on a regular basis and check in with folks.

Be friendly and show you care, even if you don’t always have control over everything that may be happening.