As a business owner, are you turning your failures and mistakes into learning opportunities for your team? Many are not. We are bound to make mistakes so learn how to turn them into opportunities for the people you lead by reading this article about how to utilize the tool called the “Point of Power”.

Have you ever considered the value of mistakes and failures? In my conversations and interactions with other business owners, I’ve realized that few do.

The knee-jerk reaction when mistakes and failures happen is to appoint blame, fix the mistake, and move on. But in that situation, what have you learned? What has your team gained? Often, nothing.

As business owners, we are bound to make mistakes too. We’re only human, right? But what separates us apart is our opportunity to turn our failures into learning opportunities for the people we lead. We can do this by utilizing a tool ActionCOACH uses called the “Point of Power.”

What is the Point of Power

ActionCOACH identifies the ‘Point of Power’ as a pivotal place where leaders can choose to take control and be powerful models of behavior or choose a powerless path. Basically, they can operate above the ‘Point of Power’ by demonstrating ownership, accountability, and responsibility. Or, they can operate below it by choosing blame, excuses, and denial.

You have the most power when you stay above the point, displaying characteristics inline with a successful leader who encourages their teams, affirms their worth, and builds them up. When we operate below the point, we are powerless. Powerless leaders deny the situation or deny their part in creating the situation. They stifle creativity and innovation and hinder the progress of the company.

Which leader do you want to be powerful or powerless?

Being a powerful leader does not mean minimizing the number of failures, but it has largely to do with how you address them. The first way you can do that is by changing how you view failures because, in reality, not all failures are bad. Let’s take a look at the spectrum of failures

You can read more about my experiences with Point of Power in this past article.

Spectrum of Failures

Professor Amy C. Edmonson, an author and professor at Harvard Law, wrote an article titled, “Strategies for Learning from Failure” in which she explains how understanding the cause and context of a failure can help avoid the blame game and can move you towards progress. She details the “Spectrum of Reasons for Failure” which she divides into three categories: Blameworthy, Neutral and Praiseworthy.


  • Deviance – choosing to violate a prescribed practice
  • Inattention – inadvertently deviating from specifications
  • Lack of Ability – not having the skills, conditions or training


  • Process Inadequacy – a competent individual adheres to a faulty process
  • Task Challenge – the task is too difficult to be executed in a timely manner
  • Process Complexity – a process with too many elements can break down when encountering novel interactions


  • Uncertainty – lack of clarity about the future causes one to take reasonable actions that produce undesired results
  • Hypothesis Testing – when an experiment that is designed to succeed, fails
  • Exploratory Testing – an experiment to expand knowledge leads to negative results

Identifying where your mistakes fall in this spectrum allows you to set reasonable actions to rectify them. While some may be in a “blameworthy” category, this does not give the green light to appoint blame for errors. Instead, it shows that these errors are preventable. On that same note, neutral can also be described as “complexity-related” and praiseworthy can be described as intelligent.


Turn Your Losses into Wins

As we talked about before, you have power as a business owner. Ultimately, your response determines the outcome to these situations. You set the tone for your business and are the example for your team.

Consider this statement by Edmonson, “Only leaders can create and reinforce a culture that counteracts the blame game and makes people feel both comfortable with and responsible for surfacing and learning from failures.” (Edmondson, 2011).”

However, few take the initiative to build that culture because we tie acknowledging or taking responsibilities for failures to negative emotions. It makes us feel weak, and it can chip at our self-esteem.

It also requires transparency, openness, and communication, which are all fundamental to building a successful business.

As a leader in your organization, how willing are you to admit failure? What are your feelings when you make a mistake? What is your first inclination when you make a mistake? Understanding these things and learning how to improve negative reactions allows your team to know that a mistake isn’t an end because it’s not. A mistake is natural. Failure is natural and you have the ability to make it a loss or an opportunity for success.

It can be a struggle, I’ll be the first to say it. When errors occur in my business, it’s a point of stress for me and my team. But I owe it to my team to persist on and model leadership in every situation, even negative ones.

If you are a business owner, I’d love to talk to you more about how you deal with your failures. I’ve picked up a few ways to overcome them and would love to share my tactics.