Everyone makes mistakes. This is something we accept in theory, but when it comes to our leaders, the lines are a little blurry. This is probably due to how some leaders tend to handle their mistakes. When the ego gets in the way, mistakes are covered up, ignored, or blamed on others. This kind of behavior shows a lack of confidence from the leader in themself and also leads to a lack of confidence from the people who follow them. It’s a lose/lose.
Great leaders (who are still just human beings) address mistakes differently. They make decisions that instill trust, build respect, and foster accountability. This is what sets them apart from others. Here are 4 ways that great leaders handle their errors.
1. They own it.
Making a mistake isn’t a weakness. It’s a part of life. But what happens next makes all the difference. Great leaders admit their slip-ups. They don’t claim perfection, and their people don’t expect it either. These leaders deliver honesty and transparency, however. They never seek to cover up or hide their mistakes. And that builds trust and loyalty.
2. They move forward.
Once the mistake is acknowledged, they move on. They learn from the mistake and don’t make it again. They look for the lesson that’s within that misjudgment and use it to make progress. In fact, they turn it into a teaching opportunity so that others can gain from the experience.
3. They fix what’s broken.
Great leaders look for the leak. They identify what led to the poor decision — whether it was not enough education a topic, a lack of the right team, or an overestimation of something else. As they move forward, they make repairs. They continue to grow, build better infrastructure, and make adjustments.
4. They build a culture of learning.
Great leaders admit their own mistakes, and they also welcome failure from their people. They encourage learning and growth instead of placing blame and pointing fingers. When that type of culture is built, people tend to be more creative, take healthy risks, and think up more innovative ideas.
Messing up doesn’t make someone a terrible person. It doesn’t make a leader weak or take away their authority. On the contrary, mistakes can be blessings and (if handled in a healthy way) can lead a company to soaring success.
“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.” –Dale Carnegie