“If you aren’t making mistakes, you probably aren’t leading.”
That sure grabbed my attention.
The line was included in an email sent to me by a colleague and former boss.
Although I’ve always considered myself a great follower (I’m good at following directions and completing tasks), I am also a leader. I lead at home, I lead at work and I have a part in leading our community.
There are several leaders in our community. All of them will make mistakes, but their success can be evident from how they handle mistakes.
A 5-Step Process for Leaders to Handle Their Mistakes is written by Dan Reiland, who dubs himself “A Pastor’s Coach.”
Here is the process, in Reiland’s words:
1) Own it completely. You may or may not be at fault for the mistake, but if you are the leader, you are responsible. Take full ownership. If something is directly your fault, it’s all the more important to own it fully. Sometimes an apology is due, then move on. Don’t try to dodge it, hide it, or back the truck up over someone else. Just own it and move forward.
2) Disclose it quickly. When you make a mistake, speak up right away. This is courageous and clears the air. It enables everyone to move toward solutions and make progress rather than assign blame.
3) Solve it correctly. Left unsolved, mistakes get bigger not better. Solutions help turn the corner from a problem to progress. Dive in deep to fix the mistake. Follow up is required, repeatedly, until it’s fully rectified. This might be accomplished in a few days, or it could take weeks or months.
4) Learn from it thoroughly. If you are like me or most leaders, we move pretty fast. Once a problem is solved, I’m on to the next thing. But that doesn’t mean I’ve actually learned something. It’s important for me to take some time to think through what caused me to make the mistake.
5) Get over it appropriately. Don’t beat yourself up. If you have completed the first four steps, shake it off. Match your level of response to the size of the mistake.
For example, let’s say you blew an appointment. The whole process should take you about five minutes. Own the mistake, lead with an apology, set a new appointment, figure out what broke down in your system, and get over it. Or, for example, you made a $200,000.00 budgeting error, and now you’re in the red for that much money. That’s a mistake of a different magnitude.