I Made a Mistake
Image source by Petr Kratochvil
I called a person to confront an awkward leadership blunder.
Mistakes aren’t the issue; what you do with them is.
8 wrong approaches to mistakes that matter:
- Mad Monkey approach: Jumping around making loud noises and pointing fingers.
- Chicken approach: Brooding. Let’s sit on these eggs until something ugly hatches.
- Possum approach: Let’s play dead. Maybe they’ll go away.
- Squirrel on Steroids approach: Trying harder and harder without adapting.
- Lounging Cat approach: It’s not that bad, someone will deal with it.
- Tiger approach: Attack.
- Weasel approach: Blame.
- Sloth approach: We’ll deal with this later.
Tough conversations are tough, but necessary.
Sooner is better than later with mistakes that matter.
Before confronting mistakes:
- Clarify. Get the facts. What really happened?
- Deal with emotion. Never confront while you’re mad, hurt, or pointing fingers.
- Plan the conversation. Write down main points. Confrontation almost never goes as planned but plan anyway.
- Determine desired behavioral results. What needs done?
- Establish emotional outcomes. How do you want people to feel when you’re done?
Attitude toward mistakes:
“A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.” James Joyce.
Seek better, rather than perfect. Arrival is a myth. “You don’t have to go all the way to bright, just make things better.” Doug Conant, author of TouchPoints.
Four words that changed everything:
I called to deal with a leadership mistake. The first thing out of their mouth was, “I made a mistake.” Boom! Everything shifts.
Futures emerge after mistakes are owned, not until. Mistakes anchor life in the past until you say, “I screwed up.”
You look strong when you own mistakes.
Tip: Own it; never excuse it.
Final step: We scheduled a face-to-face to reconnect as leaders and clarify future steps.
What wrong approach to mistakes do you most frequently see?
How do you confront mistakes others make? What about your own?