The first is, "What do we mean by failing?" and the second question for the leader is, "What have YOU done that means the team are able to fail?"

Let's be clear - what do you mean by failing? How have you measured failure? Is it about the output, or the way they are working? Did they miss a target or did the solution not work? And, when you get to an answer, ask another question, "Why?" Be that annoying 5-year old and keep asking yourself "Why?", until you get as close as you can to the root cause for the failure. This is the easy question, by the way, but it is key for you to work out what success looks like. As leaders, we need to be clear about this and we need to ensure that our measure of success is aligned to our strategic intent and to our culture. I'll explain why.

Now, let's look at the second question. This is the tough one but it is the critical question we need to answer before we can even begin to think about the turn around. "What did you do that meant your team were able to fail?"

Not "What have they done?". "What have YOU, the leader, done or not done that means the team are in a situation where failure is a possibility?" It is so rare that a team fails when the leadership has been excellent, so let's look at what has led to this situation. Then we can work out what to do about it.

There are two categories of failure: destination failure and journey failure. In other words: where they got to and how they got there.

Destination Failure

Was the destination not reached because it was the wrong one, or too far away, or never realistically attainable in the time available? If the failure was a missed target, then who set the target? Was the target agreed by all? Was it actually within the realms of reality? Was this about goal setting? If so, then look in the mirror, dear leader; the single most common reason for poor performance is poor delegation, and that is a leadership issue. Telling someone to do something is not delegation. Delegation is an agreement. A "yes" from both parties. Delegation requires a discussion and acceptance by all on where they are going by when, where they are starting from, the boundaries of scope and responsibility, the goal-based checks, time-based checks and the rules or behaviors that need to be understood. Delegation includes an agreement on the composition of the team and, critically, an understanding of the reason why. I call it "Pitchmarking" - you need to mark the pitch before you can play the game! (You can find out more about this model on my online Compassionate Leadership Academy).

If the failure was a solution that did not work, rather than a target or number, then was it really a failure, or was it a lesson? Did the team learn how not to do something, so that next time they know how to do something? How many times did you fall over learning to walk? Was this first failure an investment in knowledge and experience? F.A.I.L. stands for First Attempt Is Learning. Is the team now wiser and stronger as a result? If so, brilliant! Crack on. That was no failure. All the team need now is the opportunity and encouragement to get back out there and be brilliant.

Journey Failure

Was the problem in the journey? Was it due to poor team work, poor communication, lack of effort, skill, people or resources? Well, guess what? Yup. Over to you, leader. Did you set them up to fail? Let's have a quick look at these "journey failures".

1.     Lack of resources

Hmm. So you started them off on a journey without the means to get there? They set sail with no sails. The car had no wheels. The horse had three legs. What did you expect? Sort it out, boss, and give them a chance.

2.     Team Capability

So now they gave it their best shot but they just weren't good enough. "The team were useless," I hear you say. Oh dear. So who set them up? Who trained them? Who selected them and who told them to get on with it? Who gave them the time to work out how to work together, or not? Skipper? They're your crew on your ship. It is your responsibility to make sure they are able to do what you ask of them.

3.     Team Commitment

Sluggish, hey? Not enough effort? A bit laid back and don't seem to care? Reluctant to make decisions or take initiative or ownership? Simple. Have they bought into the "why" behind what they're doing? Do they know the value of their efforts and how much their efforts are valued?

Is what they are doing a clear step on the way to enabling your overall strategy? Are the team aligned to the your organisation's culture? Do they see it as part of their own personal journey in life? What time and effort did you and they spend together, before they started, to ensure that they could commit to the task, and commit to the organisation? Oops. Hey ho, you again. To me, the whole point of leadership is to gain commitment, for if you have commitment you have engagement, collaboration, innovation, ownership, happiness and, finally, performance.

A failing team is a result of the environment within which they are operating.  It is the leader who sets that. Have you set them up for success, or failure? Are they compliant to your wishes, or committed?

If a team is failing, then stop. Stop whatever they are doing, take time and work together to answer all of the questions above. This will give you the understanding you need to act upon positively. This is the definition of compassionate leadership. Have the courage to stop before you start. To be a compassionate leader and gain your team's commitment. Ensure they have the capability and resources for success. Do that, and I guarantee that you will turn the team around.

Manley Hopkinson is the founder of renowned leadership consultancy Manley Talks LTD and The Compassionate Leadership Academy, author of Compassionate Leadership .