Leaders can all too easily get wrapped up in the idea and pressure of being a leader. The prospect of making a mistake can rattle them and leave them feeling defensive which undoubtedly has unpleasant results. The reality is that everyone makes mistakes, including the senior leadership. It matters far more what you do following a mistake or problem. If you want to learn how to handle mistakes with grace and acknowledge them without losing credibility, here are three essential tips.
Remove Your Ego
One of the most common reasons why leaders struggle with mistakes is their ego. The mistake can feel like a personal failing and it can be all too easy to take this personally. While you may need a minute to process, developing a bit of mental and emotional distance can be valuable. Once you have a moment to process the situation and give yourself some perspective, you’ll be in a better position to find the right solution. If you let your ego cloud your judgment, you’ll let this interfere with your decision-making process.
Don’t Try to Minimize or Hide it
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is trying to hide errors. Instead, accept the situation for what it is so that you can effectively assess it. Wasting time and energy trying to hide the issue or change the perception of the situation will be fruitless, as others will likely see directly through this. Not only does this show a level of accountability and integrity, but it will speak volumes to those who look toward your leadership.
Another common pitfall that many professionals make after a mistake is trying to pass off the blame. This type of attempt is not only often unsuccessful, but it also immediately negates any credibility that you once had. If you can own up to your mistakes and take ownership, you help create a culture of humility, honesty, and accountability across the company. Conversely, if you show that mistakes are critical error that needs to be avoided at all costs, you create a culture of fear and anxiety. True leaders take ownership of their mistakes and become active participants in finding the solution.
Mistakes are not easy hurdles to overcome at work, especially when you are in a leadership role. While navigating mistakes and problems can be immensely difficult and personally challenging, this is your opportunity to rise above. Exemplify the exceptional leader that you are and set the tone with these three tips.