Encourage Mistakes to Improve Growth

Band aid
Band-aids can fix mistakes, but not the fear of them. (Flickr)

Many of us frequently admit, "We all make mistakes." And we say, "To err is human."

And let's not forget, "If you're not making mistakes, then you aren't doing anything."

Leaders will usually fall into one of two camps when it comes to their culture of creativity:

  • Leaders will discourage mistakes and respond in a punitive manner, or ...
  • Leaders will encourage mistakes and respond in an encouraging manner.

I believe that we are influenced by the managers we served early in our career. Much like parenting scripts, we tend to believe what we hear from our bosses as we launch out in our first few jobs.

So our mistake-tolerance is fairly well established in the early steps along our career path.

In growing healthy organizations, effective leaders establish a culture that encourages trial and error. If we want our teams to be creative, we cannot discourage the fruit of a creative thought. Apparent mistakes may eventually prove to be long-term winners.

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We must avoid the mortification of mistakes. I know I've questioned myself a few hundred times along the way, but I've tried not to beat myself up for more than a short pity party.

I've learned to expect mistakes. I don't ever like a mistake, but I know that blunders and brilliance are kissing cousins.

If you wish to create an accepting environment, I offer one simple suggestion:

Be consistent.

It only takes one "How could you have missed this?" to damage an encouraging culture. No mean faces or snarls. No mocking the mistake to others on the team.

Acceptance of error must be accompanied by teaching moments. If we are to learn from our mistakes, then a teacher must spend time to review the error process. We can always learn from an autopsy.

There is now, therefore, no condemnation.

Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.

Leaders, Dr. Greene wants to help you understand the spiritual connection between relationships and productivity. Read his new blog, Love Leads.

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Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.


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