How to Admit When You're Wrong
I recognize that I can be wrong - sometimes. And as a parent and husband, I’m told I might be wrong more often than sometimes.
Being wrong isn’t a great emotion to feel. I know I’m not wired to enjoy hearing when I’ve made a mistake. Or hearing a family member tell me that they told me so after I admitted to making the mistake.
Being a good leader is not about avoiding mistakes but rather about admitting and owning when you’ve made the mistake. Being open and vulnerable with others creates more opportunities for trust and transparency for your team members versus if you tried to ignore that it ever happened.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to make a mistake, consider these actions:
Apologize. Dale Carnegie advised, "When you're wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.” A genuine “I’m sorry” can be the starting point.
Make it right. Don’t be that guy who says “I’m sorry you felt that way”. Follow up the “sorry” with what action/s you’ve already taken or will take to make it right.
Learn from it. Rather than asking yourself “why” you made the mistake, focus on the “what” led to the mistake. Are you overscheduled? Did you make an assumption? Solicit feedback from others to help understand what can be learned from.
If leaders want others to feel safe and open to making mistakes, then leaders will need to model by example. Team members will gain trust in you not because you are free of mistakes, but because of how you own and manage the mistake.