The Art of Making Mistakes GracefullyWe are all human; we all err. No one is exempt. As a leader, you’ll be more remembered for how you deal with your mistakes, than your actual mistake. Think about that.

Some of the greatest mistakes in business are more remembered for how they were handled. Think about Johnson and Johnson’s handling of the Tylenol situation, which was seen as positive despite the tragic situation. On the other hand, there is the BP oil spill which became a disaster for all involved because of the CEO’s poor handling of the situation.

In other words, you can make it worse, or you can make it better.  It’s all in how you handle the aftermath of said mistake.

Art Petty shares tips to deal with your mistakes providing a great reminder on a number of levels. Most of all, he advises, rightly so, how you handle your mistakes is a great sign of your leadership abilities.

How to Handle Your Mistakes as a Leader

  • Be OK with saying, “I was wrong.” Some people find those words extremely difficult to say. A little humility will take you a long way. You’d be surprised at the reaction when you admit you’re wrong. Anger settles down; emotions simmer down.
  • Eliminate the word “but” from your reply. The word “but” deletes any value to anything you said before the word. Try it for yourself. It means you’re making an excuse, and people don’t want to hear excuses. Admit being wrong and leave it at that.
  • Don’t assign blame. If it happened by the fault of one of your team members and you are the leader, you are accountable.  Accept responsibility, offer what you’ll do to fix the issue, and learn from it so it doesn’t happen again.
  • Apologize. Here are two more words that are hard to say for some people: “I’m sorry.” Again, you’ll be amazed at how it softens the situation. Saying “I’m sorry” is a sign of humility, strength, and character. And remember, don’t use the word “but.”
  • Think about the lessons learned. Each mistake should be turned into a lesson learned. Think about what you learned, what you’d do differently next time, and how you’ll avoid it from happening again.

Maybe you’ll stop making mistakes? Don’t count on it. If we are afraid to make mistakes, it means we aren’t taking risks. The best outcomes happen after leaders accept responsibility, apologize, and outline how they will fix the problem.

Have you made a mistake recently? Do you want to practice here and tell us about it?