How Owning Your Mistakes Makes You a Better Leader

Jul 29, 2021

Everyone makes mistakes. In fact, failure is an important part of success. Every failure, while potentially embarrassing, is an opportunity for growth. This includes not only learning from mistakes, but also owning them and managing the recovery process.

In any situation, people become more trusted and more respected when they own their mistakes. In the workplace, this is especially true. In a recent study, 81% of employees agreed that it’s important for leaders to admit their mistakes. Yet only 41 percent felt their bosses actually did so. That lack of accountability is the opposite of leadership.

So how do you own your mistakes? Simply put, state the facts, find a solution, and move on.

Take Action As Soon As Possible

The sooner the problem is identified, the sooner the solution can be found. It might be embarrassing, but take accountability right away. And no excuses! Being a leader means sharing the reasons behind your actions and accepting responsibility for the outcome. If the mistake was from a member of your team and not you directly, you still need to accept responsibility. You were hired to lead a team, and it’s ultimately up to you to get the job done correctly.

Be Honest and State the Facts

Blame is not a part of being a leader. However, you also shouldn’t beat yourself up. Try to take a detached look at the problem. Explain what happened in a factual manner, and show gratitude to those who are listening. “Thank you for understanding” will go a long way to show you care about the situation. It will likely be an uncomfortable discussion, but overcoming adversity is an important part of the growth process.

Find a Quick–But Thorough–Solution

As soon as you discover your mistake, start thinking through possible solutions. All any manager wants is a resolution of the issue. Long apologies and guilty speeches aren’t helping anything. Make a plan, execute it, and move on. Then don’t forget to follow through! Go above and beyond to own up to it–especially if a customer or client is involved. Show how you’ve learned from your mistake and won’t repeat it.

Mistakes will happen, it’s only human. Learning how to own them and handle them is the key to your professional growth and leadership skills.

Written by: Sarah Perlman

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