Take Ownership of Your Mistakes

Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. Leaders included. But it can be really hard for us to own our mistakes sometimes. It can trigger our vulnerabilities, which can be unsettling for some of us, particularly if we prefer to be perceived as strong, in control and as a person upon whom people can rely for good answers and direction. Yet owning up to our imperfections is necessary for real professional growth. It’s important for leaders to realize how valuable this is in terms of addressing vulnerabilities. And it’s also a vital catalyst for kick-starting change—the kind that can both create and sustain healthy leadership habits.

Taking a look at some of your leadership mistakes? Here are three points to keep in mind:

1. Dwelling On Your Mistakes Doesn’t Help

It only hurts, creating worry and other states of mind that only undermine your potential to change effectively and sustainably. True, this can be hard. In fact, if you’re like lots of leaders who tend to excel in life and work, you may find yourself being too self-critical of your mistakes or innate flaws over which you have very little control. Instead, admit if you’ve made a mistake and then do your best to move on from it. Give a mistake more power than it deserves and it will turn into a real barrier, hindering your ability to move forward and excel with confidence and skill.

2. Your Lessons Learned Can Become Teaching Moments For Others

Confident leaders don’t hold back sharing their successes but they also aren’t afraid to speak up, when appropriate, about mistakes made and lessons learned. Sharing their own stories of struggle can help their team members with their own professional development without actually telling them what to do. It also teaches a very powerful lesson around self-forgiveness, which is a far healthier motivator than self-shame. When you forgive yourself, you are free to start over, be better, and get really creative about how you move forward in life and work.

3. Vulnerability Can Build Greater Leadership Respect

Think about it—when you’ve witnessed a leader who has freely owned up to a mistake, even if the error was a serious one, you probably had a new and greater level of respect simply because of this leader’s candor, honesty and vulnerability. Hiding mistakes certainly doesn’t win any leader favors. But considering that we all make mistakes at some point in our career, taking ownership for our mishaps is always the right thing to do. It sends a message to your people that even if you’ve messed up, you’re going to be brave, own up to it, and, most likely, take corrective action. People tend to appreciate these kinds of leaders (as long as mistakes aren’t being repeated). Being this kind of real, down-to-earth leader can go a long way toward earning and keeping your people’s respect.

What are some ways you practice self-forgiveness as a leader?


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