One of the characteristics that distinguishes excellent leaders from great leaders is how they manage mistakes.
Every leader makes blunders. Being human entails making mistakes from time to time. The difference between excellent and exceptional leaders, though, is how they manage mistakes.
When you make a mistake, what are you modeling to others around you? Your employees will be watching, and what they see will have an impact on their connection with you and their level of confidence in you, so do it right. Here’s how to do it:
Accept responsibility for your faults.
Insecure leaders may be frightened of seeming weak, yet refusing to confess a mistake only makes them appear weaker and loses respect. Vulnerability, I feel, is the ultimate strength in leadership. Accepting responsibility for your mistakes wins you the respect of people you lead and humanizes your leadership. Never try to hide what happened or place blame on others. If you’ve made a mistake, own up to it. It doesn’t have to be a major issue; merely accept responsibility and move on.
Be willing to learn from your mistakes.
The finest leaders understand that being creative frequently entails violating norms, making errors, and learning from them. Making errors is one of the finest ways to learn, and striving to understand your mistakes is one of the most effective types of self-education. Allowing oneself to make errors is part of creativity; learning from them is part of leadership. Don’t make the same errors again once you’ve learned from them. When you repeat a mistake, it is no longer a mistake, but a decision, as the old adage says. Accepting risks, attempting new ideas, and taking huge risks are all part of the essence of outstanding leadership, as is seeking for the limits of what’s possible.
Share what you’ve learned from your mistakes with others.
When you make a mistake, make it a point to share what you’ve learned with others. This fosters a sense of belonging and trust. The finest leaders are outstanding instructors, coaches, and guides who have walked the route before us and can show us the way.When we feel we have the least power in our lives, those are the times when we have the most—when we can affirm or redefine who we are and what we believe, and make decisions that help others gain from our good and terrible experiences.
Learn from your mistakes.
Learn to speak in a way that appeals to the humanity of others. Be genuine and show your human side. Demonstrate that you want to repair it. Allow people to surprise you with their empathy and good will by being open about your problems. Action and success are inextricably linked. People that are successful keep pushing forward; they make errors but do not give up. Learn to see failure as a means to move forward and away from the past. You don’t forget your error, but you also don’t linger on it or let it depress you. Get up and move about.