"The captain bites his tongue until it bleeds’ means that, once a sponsor [i.e. manager] has bet on someone, he doesn’t speak out against the project presented. The qualities that a sponsor needs are (1) belief, (2) patience, and (3) the vision to differentiate between one-time and mortal failure."
Particularly within the creative realm, managers often struggle with how to groom younger employees because they lack a tolerance for limited failure. What Lehr’s final point elucidates is that success and failure are inextricable – we attain knowledge and success through failure, rather than by avoiding it. And so it must be with our employees.
Though it sometimes requires a patience that seems super-human, the best managers strive to allow their employees to truly take the helm on projects, charting their own course and, likely, making some mistakes that will yield valuable knowledge along the way. The crucial role that managers play is to make the distinction between immaterial and material failures, biting our tongues when the boat gets rocked while still keeping an eye out for icebergs.
***The Behance team researches productivity and leadership in the creative world. These entries are adapted and edited by Jocelyn K. Glei from the Behance team's past articles and research. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the Action Method project management application, the Creative Jobs List, and develops knowledge, products, and services that help creative professionals make ideas happen.