You Lost the Big Fight, Now What Do You Do? Leaders are lauded for their triumphs but defined by how they emerge from setbacks and learn from failure.
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How a leader handles setbacks and defeats often tells a bigger story about their leadership abilities than their big wins. Challenge and adversity are givens. We will all get knocked down, whether literally in the ring or figuratively in the conference room. It happens to even the best.
What's of the utmost importance is getting back up on your feet quickly and building some new momentum. Here are five ways leaders overcome a business setback or defeat:
1. Get back to the basics.
One of the most common reasons that leaders occasionally stumble is that they lose sight of what caused success in the past. Through lack of focus or direction, or from arrogance from past success, a leader might derail from the fundamentals. I've found that the greatest practitioners in a variety of disciplines, from musicians to elite athletes to the best executives, continue to refine and revisit the basics, particularly after a tough loss.
2. Re-evaluate your preparation.
If you've lost out on a new account or captained a failed rollout at your company, one thing to go back to and examine is how you prepared. Did you put in the effort on the front end? Sometimes you'll find it's the set-up that propels success versus the execution itself.
3. Watch the tape.
In the ring analogy, a fighter would watch the video with his trainer and look for takeaways for the next fight. Business leaders don't have the luxury of watching a video replay of a tough loss, but you can reconstruct past events, similar to a police detective re-enacting a crime scene. By re-evaluating with your team your decisions and actions, you will find invaluable nuggets of information that can help you prepare for future wins.
4. Prepare for a re-match.
Great leaders should have a difficult time accepting defeat, and that fact alone helps make them great. They don't accept a single defeat as defining, "I can't beat this opponent." Instead, they look at it as a bigger challenge, "How can I come back and defeat them?"
Just because you've lost a sale, doesn't mean that the door is shut forever. Winners figure out another way to get in front of the customer, they prepare like crazy and take advantage of a second chance.
5. Get back in the ring.
The best leaders don't waste time doubting themselves. For some, a defeat is something that takes them a while to mentally get over. For the most effective, after defeat, they quickly re-engage the battle. Winners realize that lots of things in life come down to a numbers game. Of course, there's nothing like a fresh victory for getting back in the ring to erase any doubt that may have crept in during defeat.
Related: 7 Lessons From the Boxing Ring