In a recent piece in Forbes, Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran tells the story of how she lassoed a setback and turned it into a bridge to success through persistence after initially being turned down as a judge on Shark Tank. When she was on her way to Hollywood to film the first season of Shark Tank 12 years ago, the show told her it had changed its mind. She wrote a letter to Mark Cuban, listing three reasons why he should reconsider her for the job, and they ended up hiring her. “I’m smiling bright today about the letter I wrote to the big boss that turned my fortune around and the 12 wonderful years I’ve spent helping entrepreneurs make their dreams come true on Shark Tank,” she declares. The moral to this story is don’t be too quick to give up, and don’t take no for an answer.

At a time when the world craves this brand of positive and inspirational leadership more than ever, Doug Lennick and Chuck Wachendorfer want you to know that, “We are the leaders we have been looking for.” They are leadership experts at Think2perform and authors of Don’t Wait for Someone Else to Fix It, who believe that we need look no further than ourselves. “Leadership is not about having a certain title or performing a particular role. Leadership is about the power to influence others,” the duo explains, adding that even small acts of leadership can make a positive difference. They cite eight leadership essentials to turn a career setback into a growth experience now or in the New Year.

  1. Aim to be your ideal self. We can only be successful leaders when we embrace principles and values, define our purpose and goals and act accordingly, according to Lennick and Wachendorfe. They emphasize the importance of ensuring that your values, goals and behaviors are aligned.
  2. Know your real self. The two experts stress the importance of cultivating self-awareness to benchmark your real self against the people and leaders you ideally want to be. 
  3. Ignite integrity and responsibility. Integrity and responsibility breed trust. If others don’t trust you, they won’t collaborate with you, the authors insist. They emphasize telling the truth, standing up for what’s right, keeping promises, admitting mistakes and serving others as key components of a commitment to integrity and responsibility.
  4. Embrace empathy and compassion. Empathy is the ability to understand and appreciate what others are feeling while compassion involves using what you understand to show that you care. The twosome underscores the importance of identifying barriers to empathy and compassion and outlining a pathway to recognize the experiences of those you lead, help them address the experiences and move forward together with a shared sense of purpose.
  5. Decide wisely. Everyone makes approximately 35,000 decisions each day, explain Lennick and Wachendorfer, adding that your influence as a leader depends greatly on others’ responses to the decisions you make. They recommend cultivating an awareness of “emotional landmines” and mental biases—including overconfidence, confirmation bias and over optimism—that can become obstacles to wise decision-making.
  6. Let go of what you know. Learning agility—the ability to learn from experience—is a critical skill for leaders at all levels, the they advise. To cultivate a learning mindset, be curious, choose growth over comfort, resist defensiveness and try experimentation.
  7. Achieve purposeful goals. Lennick and Wachendorfer encourage people to adopt the WDYWFY goal achievement model, which stands for “What Do You Want For Yourself.” This approach requires achieving self-awareness about what you want, applying an “acid test” to your goals and following clear steps for achieving those goals.
  8. Empower others. The authors point out that empowerment is a powerful leadership tool because it taps into the internal motivators of the people you want to influence. Effective empowerment requires that leaders clarify expectations and provide resources to those they lead.

Now is a crucial moment for leaders to invest in building an internal culture of development where workers understand they can have agency and propel their careers forward through learning experiences that provide the specific skills they’re looking for. In a recent piece in Forbes, Kristen Leverone, managing director of LD at LHHL explains, “This means thinking of training beyond just an individual program and getting employees into the habit of constantly learning and improving in their work, ideally in a collaborative environment where they can share these learnings,” she explains. “This mindset starts at the top, with leaders providing recognition for those who work to develop themselves and celebrating their accomplishments, encouraging more to do the same. Leadership development works best when it is a two-way, participatory process that incorporates the next generation’s views around DEI, CSR and skills.”


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: