Business leaders make important decisions daily. But when they make mistakes, their heads are often held accountable to a much larger chopping block. L. Lavon Gray is a certified leadership coach and recently weighed in on how leaders should manage their mistakes:
- Be open to new information
Gray reminds readers that leaders can often be blinded by their egos. And this can cause them to miss important details when making decisions. Sometimes these details can be inconvenient, but without a holistic understanding of a situation, it’s easy to make mistakes.
- “Acknowledge” your mistake
Here, Gray and I differ on how leaders should behave. Acknowledging your mistake is an important first step — without doing so, leaders can undermine their credibility. However, Gray never moves on to the second step — apologizing.
Apologizing is important for a few reasons: First, apologizing shows you recognize that your mistake may have hurt someone. Second, a heartfelt apology will make a significant impact on the person your mistake may have affected. Related to both points, and as noted at the very top of this post, EVERYONE makes mistakes. Apologizing normalizes that fact and will model for others that admitting to mistakes (bringing it out into the open proactively) is a healthy part of the culture and is encouraged.
- Learn from your mistake
Learning from your mistakes calls for a proactive mindset. Without actively making the decision to see an opportunity for growth in an unfortunate situation, it will never be more than just that — an unfortunate situation. Leaders should strive to learn from their mistakes and apply what they’ve learned to future situations. As Gray puts it, “All leaders make mistakes. Great leaders simply don’t repeat them.”
- Move on
It can be hard to move on from a mistake when it affects others. But leaders must find ways to mentally recalibrate so as not to let the mistake do any more harm than it already has. Gray reminds us, “The stakes are too high because another decision is coming. We must move on because we can’t afford to blow the next decision as well.”
Question: Gray mentions “acknowledging” mistakes but doesn’t mention apologizing for them. How often do you apologize for mistakes?