A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. John C Maxwell
As a leader, the truth is you usually have a lot of on our shoulders and because you are a leader, the standards are normally set higher for you. However, what happens when you make mistake that affects other people?
Do you own the mistake, pass blame, or ignore it?
When you uncover a mistake, do you admit it and move on?
The truth is I don’t know many people that like to admit they are wrong. But when you do it can make the world of difference.
A mentor once said to me, “There are ton of perfect companies and then you add people and perfection goes out the window.” People and companies are not perfect and neither are the policies, procedures, and practices . What is the issue then? The issue is many companies and people attempt to seek perfection but, there is no such thing. Seek success. Perfection does not exist and it creates arrogance and inconsistency
Owning your mistake is a tough pill to swallow because you are leader. You set high standards for yourself. However, when creating a culture of trust and accountability it’s important to set the bar. By being open about your mistakes, it shows your employees and coworkers that you are serious about being honest, open, responsible and accountable, and this is fundamental to creating trust and loyalty. When taking ownership of your wrong action, you show others that they don’t need to fear ownership of their mistakes. They will be much more likely to have free, open communication instead of trying to cover themselves when they slip up. This keeps small problems from becoming large problems. Actually owning your mistakes can actually create more trust and loyalty from your teams. It shows that you are human.
Still question if taking ownership of your mistake is important? Stop for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of one of your employees. What happens when they make a mistake? Do you expect them to own up to it? Many times we want them to own up to it right. Now imagine if you are the employee, whose boss makes a blatant mistake but they don’t own it? What are your thoughts about that boss?
Here are five steps I have learned about owning up to our mistakes. WARNING! You have to be genuine and real.
1. Acknowledge the mistake specifically-Don’t skirt around the issue. Don’t say I am sorry, but (you have officially devalued the apology if you do this)…Be specific and candid. Yes, I know admitting a mistake it’s not fun… It’s ok to humble one self
2. Accept responsibility– Don’t pass blame, don’t redirect it to someone else… Own it! Otherwise, you might repeat it again.
The next three steps are probably the three steps I have missed a lot in owning my mistakes.
3. Outline the steps on how you are going to fix what you are sorry for. This could be#1 it actually shows you are aware of your mistake and you are committed to make things right.
4. Ask for forgiveness– Anyone can say I am sorry. But how many times do you hear people say “They didn’t mean it.” Say sorry is a lot easier than asking for forgiveness. Why? Forgiveness means you are humbling yourself to someone else.
5. Learn from your mistakes. Experience is a great, and sometimes painful, teacher. Take this opportunity to reflect on what went wrong so that you don’t repeat the same mistake.
By owning your actions with courage and humility, you are setting an example of leadership and gaining the respect of those around you. In addition, if handled properly, mistakes can help us sharpen our leadership skills and lead to personal growth.
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