Those are hard words for leaders (and others) to say. In fact, they are so hard that you rarely hear them and when you do it is not that direct but some softer variation. Spin and circumlocution are not the purview of politicians alone. 

Leaders don't like to be wrong. The best leaders work very hard to anticipate unintended consequences of decisions and mitigate against wrong decisions for the good of the organization. But all of us blow it from time to time: A bad hire; words that hurt; actions that disempower; strategies that betray us and the list could go on.

Often when that happens we try to explain our way out of it. Why we did it, what we missed, why it was the right thing to do at the time - as if any of those things mitigate against the fact that we were...well...wrong. 

How refreshing it is when a leader simply says. "I was wrong." Those around them know the truth anyway so a candid reply beats a defense of ourselves every time. 

I know leaders who have left a string of broken relationships behind them because they were unable to admit their errors when they violated other people or did not keep their word. You cannot restore broken trust without first admitting that you were wrong. Hard but necessary words. 

The hardest words are the most important words. Others know it is hard and they respect those who can say them. It models a transparency and humility that is much needed in leadership circles. The irony is that we lose respect when we hang on to our pride and gain it when we admit our mistakes.

  • Oct 27, 2012
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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