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Teach From Your Mistakes

Teach From Your Mistakes

When was the last time you really stumbled? By stumbled, I mean a task or situation where you just flat-out failed. Was your last mistake, a month ago, last week, or last night? As a leader and someone who is working to become a better leader today than you were yesterday I know that you followed the below check list or something like it to correct the issue;
1.Identify the root cause
2.What system or action did you put in place to prevent the failure in the future?
3.Placed the incident in the past and moved on

Many people do everything in their power to either hide what happened or minimize effects. They may even try to blame someone else or divert attention away from themselves in an attempt to conceal what just happened. I suggest that when appropriate, as a leader you allow your team and those around you to witness not only your mistake but also the steps you take to correct the mistake and then move on. As a business coach, I think that a powerful message is sent to the team and the people around you when they witness that the leader is not perfect and that you as the leader can move on from making a mistake. Leaders and business owners can create as many formal written policies about what the organization or team expects people to do when a mistake is made but the most powerful message is what the leader models for their team. These are the two most important reasons why allowing your team or network have visibility to your mistakes works for you in the long run.

1) A mistake does not equal the end of the world. If your team knows that the even the boss makes mistakes and the world does not come to an end, the risk of not executing perfectly is reduced. This does not mean that changes would need to be made should a large fatal error be made but small mistakes made in the course of day-to-day activities will not lead to reprimands or termination.

2) How you bounce back from a mistake is the example that the team will follow. If you lash out and try to find others to blame for your decisions or actions then the team will know that it is not safe to admit mistakes. They will also know that the culture of personal accountability are only words in a document and not what is followed in practice.

If you show leadership and take ownership of the mistake, your team will understand that the culture that you are fostering is one that has a core belief and practice of accountability and responsibility.
I do not expect any of this to be simple but I do expect that as leaders and business owners that we do try to be leaders in action and deed, more than by title and position. If you value accountability, honesty and even grace as part of your team's culture then you will allow your team and network to see you make mistakes and then the steps you take to fix those mistakes. Should everyone on your team have visibility to everything that you do and every mistake that you make? The answer to that questions is no. However, to effectively model behavior for your team, the do need a healthy level of transparency from you.

Coach's Wrap Up Taking responsibility when you make a mistake is difficult. You are already exposed by failing to meet the goal, follow proper procedures or simply taking a risk. Owning the mistake takes the power away from the damage that whispers can cause by bringing the issue into the light. As a leader, if you want a culture of accountability and honesty then you will have to show leadership by modeling the behavior you expect from your team.

Question: Have you worked in an environment where the leaders did not take responsibility for mistakes? What was the culture like? Was there a high degree of trust within the team?

When was the last time you really stumbled? By stumbled, I mean a task or situation where you just flat-out failed. Was your last mistake, a month ago, last week, or last night? As a leader and someone who is working to become a better leader today than you were yesterday I know that you followed the below check list or something like it to correct the issue;

  1. Identify the root cause
  2. What system or action did you put in place to prevent the failure in the future?
  3. Placed the incident in the past and moved on

Many people do everything in their power to either hide what happened or minimize effects. They may even try to blame someone else or divert attention away from themselves in an attempt to conceal what just happened. I suggest that when appropriate, as a leader you allow your team and those around you to witness not only your mistake but also the steps you take to correct the mistake and then move on. As a business coach, I think that a powerful message is sent to the team and the people around you when they witness that the leader is not perfect and that you as the leader can move on from making a mistake.  Leaders and business owners can create as many formal written policies about what the organization or team expects people to do when a mistake is made but the most powerful message is what the leader models for their team. These are the two most important reasons why allowing your team or network have visibility to your mistakes works for you in the long run.

1) A mistake does not equal the end of the world. If your team knows that the even the boss makes mistakes and the world does not come to an end, the risk of not executing perfectly is reduced. This does not mean that changes would need to be made should a large fatal error be made but small mistakes made in the course of day-to-day activities will not lead to reprimands or termination.

2) How you bounce back from a mistake is the example that the team will follow.  If you lash out and try to find others to blame for your decisions or actions then the team will know that it is not safe to admit mistakes. They will also know that the culture of personal accountability are only words in a document and not what is followed in practice.

If you show leadership and take ownership of the mistake, your team will understand that the culture that you are fostering is one that has a core belief and practice of accountability and responsibility.

I do not expect any of this to be simple but I do expect that as leaders and business owners that we do try to be leaders in action and deed, more than by title and position. If you value accountability, honesty and even grace as part of your team’s culture then you will allow your team and network to see you make mistakes and then the steps you take to fix those mistakes. Should everyone on your team have visibility to everything that you do and every mistake that you make? The answer to that questions is no. However, to effectively model behavior for your team, the do need a healthy level of transparency from you. Coach’s Wrap Up Taking responsibility when you make a mistake is difficult. You are already exposed by failing to meet the goal, follow proper procedures or simply taking a risk. Owning the mistake takes the power away from the damage that whispers can cause by bringing the issue into the light.  As a leader, if you want a culture of accountability and honesty then you will have to show leadership by modeling the behavior you expect from your team. Question: Have you worked in an environment where the leaders did not take responsibility for mistakes? What was the culture like? Was there a high degree of trust within the team?

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