What to do when you make a mistake as a leader?


Hi, there, Claire here, CEO of Know Your Team, where we give you the tools and training for you to be the best leader possible. And I'm back today with another manager tip, which if you've been finding these tips helpful, please be sure to make sure to subscribe while it's top of mind, just so you don't miss out on any of the helpful pointers that I share periodically via video. So, do be sure to subscribe here in YouTube or subscribe at knowyourteam.com.

Today, what I want to talk about for the manager tip is actually something that I really needed to revisit and really remind myself what was the best course of action to take. And it was around what to do when you make a mistake as a leader. And so, what I want to actually talk about today is when you do make a mistake as a leader, we've all been there, it's bound to happen, how do you in fact resist that pressure to point fingers, to feel overly guilty, and to get really weighed down by the mistake instead of moving forward?

And so, the specific actions that I had to, in fact, revisit very recently for myself, are really these, which is that when you make a mistake as a leader, the first thing you have to keep in mind is that you must be accountable to that mistake. It doesn't matter if it truly, actually is someone else's fault. It doesn't matter if it was in fact out of your control.

But if there was something that didn't go well, if there was something that didn't end up being what you said it was going to be, the buck stops with you as a leader. In many ways that's part of the definition of what it means to be a leader, is to be ultimately accountable.

And so, that means not pointing fingers at anybody else, but truly pointing things and fingers at ourselves. It's saying the very specific phrase of, "This is on me. This is my fault. I made a mistake." And not, "Oh, well, you know, I really couldn't do anything about it. Oh, it's the market. Oh, it's competitors. Oh it's, you know, this person's fault." Right? So, how can you challenge yourself in a moment of a mistake as a leader to truly show accountability? That's the first thing.

Then the second thing that you're gonna wanna do is that if you're anything like me, you feel bad about your mistake. You are eating yourself up about it, and the guilt, oof, can really weigh you down. And so the second thing that you're gonna wanna actually do as a leader when you make a mistake is actually remind yourself that the guilt is not productive. That actually doesn't change the outcome, how much you say, "Oh, I'm the worst. Oh, I'm terrible. Oh, I don't deserve to be here." I know it can feel like that might be true, but that, in fact, isn't gonna actually help you make progress and move forward, and it's actually not gonna help anyone else, the folks affected by the mistake, feel any better about it too. So, remind yourself that guilt doesn't actually make anything better.

And then the last thing you're gonna wanna do when you make a mistake as a leader is to be forward focused. Make sure you have a very clear plan that is detailed as to how this won't happen again. Put in steps so that there are feedback loops to make it clear how you're making progress to make sure it doesn't happen again. And then change your process, change the gaps, make big shifts to ensure that it in fact doesn't ever repeat itself. So, being forward focused, being transparent in how you are changing things with your team in that focus is going to help give folks confidence that things are on the right track after all.

Because, really, what it comes down to, how we handle mistakes, it's very much a testament to whether or not our team can really trust us and rely on us, more than really looking at how we handle moments of when things are going well. It's in these moments when we make mistakes that reveal whether or not we are truly up to the task of being a great leader. ourselves what it means to be great as a leader is in how we handle these moments. Thanks so much.

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