The Magic of Admitting Mistakes as a Leader
“I was mistaken, you were right about X” said to me in my early 20’s a male manager who was 15 years older than me.
I was stunned!
Up to that point, I’d never experienced a man more senior than me, both in age and status, telling me that I was right and they might have been wrong about something.
This man gained my respect instantly and I valued his perspective and opinion above many others.
This man created a superb culture in our team, where I wasn’t scared to speak up and say what I thought.
This man is Pedro Neves Rosa — in fact I caught up with him last week as he joined my boyfriend and I at a house we rented in France.
What I love about Pedro is that if he makes a mistake, he’s the first person to admit it, creating a culture completely devoid of fear and making everything easier to be fixed.
What happens when the leader doesn’t freely and openly admit mistakes?
People under them feel scared to admit mistakes too.
Then when a mistake has been made, companies often waste months trying to find a systemic error when it was simply a human error, which would have saved thousands of wasted hours if someone had come forward from the beginning and taken responsibility.
I’ve seen this also with engineers who are afraid to admit that they’re not going to finish a feature by the time they initially thought.
Instead of telling the project manager as soon as they realise it, they just work longer and longer hours trying to do it and hiding from the project manager.
Then all the other teams waiting for this release are delayed — but because no one spoke up as soon as they realised, this becomes a problem with repercussions all the way to the customer.
It’s not hard to get people to tell you about mistakes before they become problems.
Just say it yourself, show them how it’s done!
I know what good looks like in leadership as I experienced it first hand from the best.
Photo: Pedro and I last week.