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Do Leaders Ever Make Mistakes?

Leaders are people who don’t make mistakes and if they do make a mistake, they certainly shouldn’t admit it to others. Actually, I disagree with the previous statement. However, the consensus of opinion among many leaders today seems to indicate that they are rarely wrong and if they are wrong, instead of admitting a mistake, the objective is to put a positive “spin” on the mistake. For example, “I didn’t lie. I simply misspoke the truth as I understood it.”

This unhealthy leadership ideology, to which many leaders often adhere, is contrary to the four things good leaders should say when they make a mistake.

  • “I was wrong.”
  • “I’m sorry.”
  • “I don’t know what to do.”
  • “I need help.”

The more a leader attempts to hide or “spin” his or her mistake, the more tangled the web of deceit becomes. Sir Walter Scott , a noted Scottish author and novelist may have been on to something when he said, “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” When you are deep in a hole that you have been digging, continuing to dig will not provide a way out.

As a leader, when you make a mistake:

  • admit it
  • apologize
  • acknowledge you’re not sure what to do
  • ask for help

You will be amazed at how others will be willing to follow you and assist you because of your transparency and honesty. If you don’t believe me, give it a try the next time you make a mistake in front of a team member. However, if you are reluctant to do this, you can simply keep spinning your web and become more entangled in your mistake.

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