If you attempt great things, you will experience moments of failure and disappointment. You will make mistakes. Your plans will not always go as they were mapped out to go. Life will mess with your best plans. As Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
In some of these moments you may likely lose some credibility with your leader. Credibility with your leader is essential. If your leader does not trust you, your influence and impact will be greatly hampered. So how do you regain your leader’s trust in the midst of difficult challenges and disappointment? Here are six steps to regain your leader’s trust:
1. Show your pain.
Leaders often want to know that a problem or mistake bothers others as much as it bothers them. They often feel alone and wonder if others care as much as they do. Show your leader that the struggle is deeply bothersome and frustrating to you, and you will likely gain credibility.
2. Own the problem.
Be the first to own the problem. Take responsibility for the issue. Shifting responsibility and blaming others for something that was your responsibility will only erode trust more.
3. Show your learning.
Mistakes provide a great opportunity to learn. Don’t waste them. Show your leader what your area of responsibility learned from the mistake.
4. Outline a path forward.
Offer your leader specific plans on how you will move forward. This may be the introduction of a new process or system, but tangibly show how you and your team have adjusted.
5. Be positive.
Once you have owned the problem and outlined a path ahead, move forward. Show your leader that the setback has not crushed you or your enthusiasm, that you are deeply committed to the mission.
6. Report back with progress.
In coming weeks and months, show your leader the results of the learning. Show the impact of the adjustments you have made in your leadership. As your leader sees you adjusting to the learning from failure, your leader will be much more willing to let you fail again.
And you will. We all will.