Interviewers understand that leaders will have a failed effort now and then. What they really want to know is that you can recognize those failures, learn from them, and enthusiastically move on.
Think about a time when your leadership plan didn't go as desired. Be sure to tell the interviewer what you learned from the scenario as well as what you would do differently the next time.
"When I first joined my current company, I had big plans to overhaul the existing sales team and send them on a business development workshop weekend. Most of the employees ended up quitting because they didn't understand what this growth opportunity would have allowed them. Looking back, what I should have done was build stronger rapport with my new team before sending them on a weekend workshop. They felt it was a punishment of some sort which wasn't the case at all. I learned my lesson, hired some stellar sales staff, and forged ahead! My new team ended up gaining strong momentum and finished the year 124% above budget."
"I took control of our company's most recent hiring fair, in the absence of our HR Manager, as she was on maternity leave. It was not as successful as previous hiring fairs and, despite my best efforts, I didn't see the results that I was hoping. I will continue to learn the recruiting field and won't give up despite this disappointment."
"We had a lat minute order come through from a customer, but our material planner/production scheduler was out sick. I tried to get everything planned correctly for her, but we ended up having to do an unplanned changeover because we ran out of a part that was needed to continue. She was slightly mad at me, but she loves me...it will be alright."
Sales answer example
"The aforementioned lunch and learns that I created were really effective the first few times, and then flopped. The team morale was so low that it became apparent that everyone needed to use their lunch breaks to actually disconnect from work so they could be more effective overall. Looking back, I would have scheduled them every month rather than each week so as to avoid this type of burnout."
Marketing answer example
"I took charge of migrating our mail service provider to a new, much better one. However, in the process, we ultimately lost one of our mailing lists in the migration. Obviously, this was a huge problem and disappointment, but it taught me to always back everything up and move extra carefully, even on a tight deadline. Luckily, the mailing list was in the backend of our website, so I was able to recover the list. In addition, it gave me an opportunity to become more familiar with the backend of our site, so there were more lessons learned than figurative tears shed."