How Do Your Leaders Respond to Mistakes?

Are you one of those leaders that spend their day looking for mistakes? You may be one of those leaders who always unconsciously looks for problems to solve, and may even create them when they don’t exist. People with this disposition regularly point out mistakes, tell people how to do things better, and for the most part – are viewed by their co-workers and subordinates as micromanagers. They justify their actions by claiming to know better, have more experience, and point to all the mistakes they find on a daily basis.

Address Leadership Patterns, Not Leadership Mistakes

In reality, the more “senior” the executive or leader is, the more mistakes you should expect them to make. If they do not, they are likely mediocre at best and should not reach the senior ranks. The higher one’s position, the more responsibility, the greater the range of decisions and issues, and the more likely that mistakes will occur. It does not matter how many battles one has fought and won… no one can possibly know or have seen everything. The world, people, competition, and issues are constantly evolving, and so must leaders. The key as a leader is to look for patterns and address the patterns rather than the individual mistakes.

Utilize Mistakes as Learning Tools

Does the way you respond to a mistake define you as a leader? Leaders who regularly punish and criticize people for mistakes, regardless of position, actually reduce their personal power within an organization. If you consistently handle mistakes poorly, you eventually lose the respect of others, reduce motivation, and hold back the company. Even worse, by not utilizing mistakes as learning tools, you are influencing mediocrity by creating an environment where people will “play it safe” and “do things the way we always have” in order to avoid disfavor. You may tell people to “think out of box” and/or “be creative”; however, actions, body language and tone can speak much louder than the words.

Developing and Growing Leadership

By attacking others for mistakes, or mistakenly deciding that it’s “easier just to do it myself,” a leader will prevent others from learning what they are capable of becoming. Or, if a leader depends on someone else to prevent the possibility of failure, they will find that they are actually preventing themselves from developing leadership. Further, many leaders make the mistake of trying to be involved in every decision so that mistakes will not happen. All they are accomplishing is making a bunch of people depend on them and stifling their organization. They need to stop taking themselves so seriously and let their people develop.

Leadership Mistakes and Errors Are Necessary

Leadership mistakes and errors are necessary steps in the learning process. They are meant to be a means to an end — not to be an end in themselves. Once they have served their purpose, leadership mistakes should be forgotten. No one enjoys making mistakes, but everyone makes them. Your leadership progress is determined by your attitude toward yourself and others. “Failure” is a state of mind, yet leaders who view failures as learning experienced bounce back even stronger.

If you are interested in improving how well your leadership team functions, let’s schedule a time a time with one of our expert business coaches. Call Activate Group, one of the top executive coaching firms in the United States, for a FREE consultation 305.722.7213.