A good leader isn’t one who avoids making mistakes, but rather one who admits to them.
The fear of making a mistake can put us off taking risks. But leadership requires taking calculated risks and if one of those backfires how you handle the situation can be extremely telling. You need to possess the confidence to admit it when you’re wrong and hold yourself accountable for the results. Acknowledging your mistake isn’t a liability, in fact it’s an opportunity for you to strengthen your integrity and build employee engagement.
You’re actually leading by example
Leaders are always asking their teams to take on bigger initiatives, drive change, and take leaps of faith. But all of this is redundant if leaders themselves aren’t willing to lead by example. A good leader takes difficult decisions head on, pushes the boundaries of what is possible, and takes accountability for his/her if things don’t go as per plan. This might reveal that they don’t know everything and don’t always have the correct answer, but they’re willing to put themselves out there and try. This inspires employees to follow in their footsteps. They realise that it is okay to fear making mistakes but should not let that fear stop them from taking more initiative when they see an opportunity.
It increases employee engagement
By admitting your mistake you’re showing your vulnerability, showing you are human. While a lot of leaders see this as a weakness, thinking it will undermine their authority and make them seem less leader-like. They’re more worried about perception rather than being innovative. This creates a divide between leaders who are scared and clutching on to their positions and teams who are looking for a leader who can help them address their own shortfalls and mistakes. Employees connect better with leaders who are willing to show their imperfections, their humanness.
You gain respect
Employees look up to leaders who are honest about their mistakes and willing to learn from them. It shows that they aren’t afraid to show that they’re less than perfect. And a good leader knows it’s important to acknowledge that. This type of behaviour shows you have integrity. You’re not trying to hide the situation from your employees or customers (which would actually breed distrust). Rather you’re taking ownership of it and setting an example for your employees to follow.
You’re building an environment of trust
When peers, seniors and employees see you stepping up and swiftly owning your mistakes, they know they can trust you to do the right thing in difficult situations. They value your integrity and the trust you’ve placed in them by revealing your vulnerability. This helps them trust you to be open about other aspects as well and have greater faith in your leadership. It also encourages them to be equally forthright about their own situations. Together you’re creating a company culture that values truth and transparency.