Leaders Must Own Their Mistakes

Leaders must own their mistakes. Those who do build a culture of trust, respect, collaboration, and innovation. Those leaders who don’t, and blame their mistakes on others or make excuses, create a negative culture. In this episode of the Lead From Anywhere podcast, I discuss this dynamic, and offer some ideas on how to “own it.”

Owning Your Mistakes as a Leader – Listen Now!

Owning Your Mistakes is Part of Being a Leader

Owning your mistakes – falling on the sword sometimes – is part of being a servant leader.

Why is this important?

  1. It shows those you lead that you will take the blame if it’s your fault. That you recognize your role and responsibility in any mistakes made.
  2. It shows you have humility.
  3. – and maybe most importantly – It models for them the behavior you’d like to see when they make a mistake. And it shows them that this behavior is celebrated and rewarded, not punished.

It really is as simple as saying, “That was my mistake, my bad. I apologize – and here’s how we’re going to fix it.”

I’ve made many, many mistakes as a team member – I think that’s just part of the experience here – but I can tell you how my leaders responded had an immense impact on me.

It is Impactful When Leaders Own Their Mistakes

I’ve not always been good at this as a leader. In my past, there are more times than I’d like to admit to that I’ve blamed something else or made excuses for my performance. This is easy to do, because as a leader you’re often working on multiple things at once, and it’s easy to lose sight.

It’s even easier to do, as a leader, if the mistake was made by someone else – but it’s still your mistake because it’s the team you lead.

This behavior teaches those you lead a lot of things, but I think the most damaging element is that it teaches them they can’t depend on you or trust you.

Leaders Earn Trust When They Own Their Mistakes

If, as a leader, you’re always making excuses for a reason something didn’t happen, OR if you’re blaming others when mistakes do happen that are clearly your responsibility, those you lead are not going to trust or respect you. It’s going to be that environment where they feel like they have to be careful about everything they say, that they’re walking on eggshells.

This behavior from a leader squashes collaboration, creativity, and innovation in any workplace.

That’s how a company dies, by the way – when those things die.

So, for the sake of those you lead and the organization in which you lead, I’m asking leaders everywhere to stop making excuses and to stop blaming.

Own up to your mistakes, and then find a way to fix them.