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FAIL – Focussed Action Innovative Leadership : Using 'leadership failure lens' to support leadership development approaches

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Delivered at 5th International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education & Training (ukcge.ac.uk) 6th April 2022


FAIL – Focussed Action Innovative Leadership : Using 'leadership failure lens' to support leadership development approaches

Failure is part of being human, it’s often a considered a negative but looking at it differently can open unexpected routes to success. However, the pressures of the research environment can make it difficult to take this view. Elliot and Thrash argue that for many young people, fear of failure becomes “a dispositional burden that they must carry with them into each new achievement situation and that affects the goals they choose to pursue” (2004, 968). By the time students reach PGR level, fear of failure is often strongly developed and can lead to intense anxiety, as well as a risk-averse approach and can be completely immobilising, halting productivity and aspirations. Furthermore it decreases any capacity for leadership that often involves confidence and being comfortable with risk taking.

The University of Salford has developed a “Leadership Failure Lens” to flip failure in a leadership context and re-frame it as opportunities for personal development and growth. In this series of case studies, we explore applications of the leadership failure lens to help researchers at different levels (PGRs through the Doctoral cycle and their supervisory teams through different approaches to supervision) by:

· Utilising ‘lessons learnt’ and developing confident decision making

· Exploring the role of failure in risk taking capacity and aspiration

· Reflecting and re-purposing, failure as a mechanism to roadmap success

· Increase resilience

Drawing on creative and innovative practices, we present the experience of failure as something to be valued (Naray-Davey & Hurley, 2014). The leadership failure lens demonstrates the context and usefulness of failure in developing leadership behaviours and long-term skills for resilience. Participants will have the opportunity during the session to ‘try out’ the lens and consider it in their own institutional context and develop positive actions to take forward through a Focussed Action Innovative Leadership (FAIL) approach.

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