None of us is perfect. And the obvious implication for leaders and team members is that we are going to make mistakes, disappoint people we serve, miss deadlines, and not always execute flawlessly. A pattern of missed execution is very different from a moment of missed execution. We all have moments of misses. But a habit of over-promising and under-delivering corrodes the credibility of the leader and the team.
Mistakes can help us develop if we are willing to own them and learn from them. But leaders who do not own their mistakes will fail to learn and will continue to repeat them. Before you can learn and adjust from a miss, you must first own it. Here are two indicators you or someone on your team is not “owning it.”
1. You look for others to blame.
When someone looks for others to blame, they have not really taken responsibility. Ineffective leaders spend hours blaming others for problems instead of solving them. Hours that could have been utilized learning and adjusting are wasted in attempts to build cases against others for those problems. A confession that attributes blame to others isn’t really a confession. And it surely won’t lead to changes, learning, and growth.
2. You use past or future performance to bargain.
When someone is confronted for missed execution and they bring up past successes or make future promises, they have not yet owned the miss. When the past is used to justify the lack of execution today, the person has stopped growing.
As leaders, we should not be afraid of making mistakes. In fact, the more we attempt, the more likely we will make mistakes. But we should own them so we can learn from them and adjust.