Everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a CEO of a huge corporation or the lowliest janitor. Some mistakes are easy to cover up, while others make you look as if you have egg on your face. Since you’re going to make an error or two in your business career, how can you save face if you’re in leadership?
Take Responsibility for Your Part
In 1984, then-President Ronald Reagan admitted his Administration’s participation in the Iran-Contra Scandal. He said, “Now, what should happen when you make a mistake is this: You take your knocks, you learn your lessons, and then you move on.” JFK took responsibility for the Bay of Pigs. Confessing your faults is something that even great leaders must do. It’s not the mistake that people are looking at, but at how you deal with your part.
Don’t Dress It Up
Pretending a mistake is some sort of valuable lesson for your team is just trying to pull one over on them. And whatever you do, don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Suck it up and enjoy the laugh at your expense. Your staff knows that mistakes happen.
Get Over Yourself
Don’t try to save face. It’s just vanity that makes you want to cover it up or pass the buck. You might be the boss, but leadership isn’t about popularity. It’s about making tough decisions and dealing with the fallout. Leadership is about remembering that you work with people of all levels and you’re no better than they are.
The best leaders own up to their mistakes and keep moving forward. Most people learn more from their failures than their successes. If you aren’t making some mistakes, maybe you’re playing it too safe.
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