Leaders make mistakes.
Simple business mistakes: typos in a major presentation, errors in a spreadsheet at budget time, forgetting to return a call or perhaps quoting a scripture in a message with the wrong citation.
The list can be rather long. Preparation time was adequate, but somehow focus slipped away and a common blunder popped up.
There are much more serious mistakes a leader can make, particularly as it relates to people and projects, but let's focus on the little foxes. A leader's response to simple mistakes sets the culture for how the organization will respond to bigger issues.
I frequently teach the axiom, "Your response determines your destiny." The course we set in our response to mistakes determines the potential impact of our leadership footprint.
There's an additional embedded axiom in this thought. Respond; don't react. When I make a mistake in my writing, it's similar to stepping on one of my dog's bones during a rest room run at 2 a.m. I sure want to react!
It's frustrating to see a typo or usage error in my work. I don't like it. If I react to the error with some lowly EQ (emotional quotient) fit, it's almost certain that future work will be flawed with a more serious error. If I am able to respond to the error with resolve to improve the work system and find fail-safe review methods, the outcome will usually be healthier.
Perhaps the leader lesson in this scenario is how we respond, rather than react, to the mistakes of others. I think the key point is to focus on the system rather than the person. High-octane reactions over mistakes only serve to increase the frequency of mistakes.
"And if indeed I have erred, my error remains with me" (Job 19:4).
Leaders help their team move on from mistakes with the same grace fully given to all who would ask.
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.
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