A 5 Step Process for Leaders to Handle Their Mistakes

By Dan Reiland

When you are out in front leading, missteps are part of the journey. If you aren’t making mistakes, you probably aren’t leading.

All leaders make mistakes, the key is to not make the same one twice. If a leader makes the same mistake twice, it’s an indication they are not learning.

I’ve sure made my fair share of mess-ups and I’m not free from them now. Hopefully, not as frequent these days, and the context is also important. That is, you are doing more things right than wrong. But again, if you are leading in uncharted waters you will make mistakes.

Leaders who try to cover up, justify or minimize their mistakes often struggle with deeper issues. It can be anything from pride, to insecurity, to not wanting the mistake to be revealed.

But other times we just take ourselves too seriously. And it’s highly beneficial to be in an environment that is forgiving of our goof-ups.

At 12Stone we give two fun awards each month at our All Staff meeting. One is called the Good Bird, and it’s given out for great servant leadership. The other is called the Dirty Bird, and it’s kind of our “Dumb and Dumber” award. The scary thing is that I think our staff loves getting that one more! We laugh and have a great time with it. The important thing is that we can laugh at the dumb things we do and the mistakes we make because it’s a safe and healthy environment.

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A 5-step process to handle your mistakes well:

1) Own it completely.

You may or may not be at fault for the mistake, but if you are the leader, you are responsible. Take full ownership.

On more than one occasion relating to problem by one of my team members, I’ve said to our senior pastor, “I’m responsible for this situation and I’m on it.”

If something is directly your fault, it’s all the more important to own it fully. Sometimes an apology is due, then move on.

Don’t try to dodge it, hide it, or back the truck up over someone else. Just own it and move forward.

2) Disclose it quickly.

When you make a mistake, speak up right away. This is courageous and clears the air. It enables everyone to move toward solutions and make progress rather than assign blame.

If something goes wrong, you should be the first one to say, “Hey, I made a mistake.” Not “Oops.” Don’t minimize it. It’s better to say, “That’s my mistake.” Our words as leaders make a difference.

It’s not necessary to make it a big deal. In fact, a poised and matter of fact statement is all that is needed.

Your boss, or your team will love you for it, and your candid and mature disclosure increases trust. They will have more respect for you because you saw it, owned it, and spoke up.

And it’s never a good idea to have your boss to find out from someone other than you.

3) Solve it correctly.

Left unsolved, mistakes get bigger not better.

Solutions help turn the corner from a problem to progress. A good solution changes the focus from the negative tone of a “mistake,” to one of forward motion and progress.

Dive in deep to fix the mistake. Cosmetic work that is just enough to cover the surface doesn’t really fix the problem. Solutions that last require more than touch up.

Understanding what went wrong and the difference between, for example, a system failure or human error is essential.

Follow up is required, repeatedly, until it’s fully rectified. This might be accomplished in a few days, or it could take weeks or months. It doesn’t matter, solve it correctly whatever it takes.

4) Learn from it thoroughly.

If you are like me or most leaders, we move pretty fast.

There’s a lot to do, so I have a tendency to move on a little too quickly. How about you?

Once a problem is solved, I’m on to the next thing. But that doesn’t mean I’ve actually learned something.

It’s important for me to take some time to think through what caused me to make the mistake.

For example, did I lack experience? Did I make the wrong decision, and if so why? Did I not think through the issues enough? Was I distracted? Was it more circumstantial? This process will be relevant and helpful to you as well.

From there, it’s wise to take a few minutes to acknowledge how you would do it better next time.

5) Get over it appropriately.

It’s important to get over your mistake and move on.

Don’t beat yourself up. If you have completed the first four steps, shake it off.

Match your level of response to the size of the mistake.

For example, let’s say you blew an appointment, you just missed one and you never do that. The whole process should take you about five minutes. Own the mistake, lead with an apology, set a new appointment, figure out what broke down in your system, and get over it.

Or, for example, you made a huge budgeting error, and now you’re in the hole for that much money. That’s a mistake of a different magnitude.

It’s is going to be complex before you even get started. It will take time to understand what actually happened. It may take months to solve the problem, etc.

But it still starts in the same place. Own it fully and disclose it completely, then dig in to the solution and learning.

There it is.

  1. Own it completely.
  2. Disclose it quickly.
  3. Solve it correctly.
  4. Learn from it thoroughly.
  5. Get over it appropriately.

Pass this on to your staff and friends who lead! 

This article was originally published at: danreiland.com

 

10 Things I’ve Learned From Difficult People

By Steve Dunmire

When I first went into ministry, I was warned that, as a pastor, I would have to deal with difficult people. But I was not prepared for how venomous they could be at times.

I have been on the receiving end of vindictive anonymous letters, berating phone calls and accusing rants. I’ve watched too many difficult people literally storm out of the churches I have served (not to mention their passive aggressive behavior, sarcastic remarks, cutting jokes and backhanded compliments).

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But I’ve also learned a lot from difficult people. Here are a few of the lessons they have taught me:

1. Difficult People Have the Nerve to Say What Everyone Else is Thinking.

Sometimes (not always) difficult people are the people who say to your face what others will only mutter under their breath. They are sometimes the only ones who have the nerve to say what everyone else is thinking. Difficult people can be the pastoral equivalent of when a physician orders blood work for a patient: an efficient way to find out what is going on in the church’s bloodstream.

2. Difficult People Help Me Develop Thick Skin.

Dealing with difficult people is one of the most effective ways to develop the thick skin a pastor needs in order to be fit for ministry. There may be no other substitute. Dealing with difficult people is to our souls what weight training is to our bodies, so I have learned to love difficult people because they make me stronger.

3. Difficult People Reveal My Insecurities.

Difficult people force us to face up to our insecurities and our need to be liked. They force us to choose the need to be firm on some issues over our need for acceptance. Their criticism strikes at the lie that the Enemy has planted in our hearts: “This is who you really are, and all the nice things people say is just them being polite.”

Difficult people and critics in our lives can be like carnival mirrors who criticize an exaggerated and distorted version of ourselves. We recognize immediately that the distorted image is not who we are—and this can provide for us the opportunity to look at our lives and see ourselves as we really are.

4. Difficult People Make Me Clarify What I’m Doing.

Just as one out of tune string on a guitar can force us to retune all six strings, one difficult person in a church can prompt us to clarify everything we do. They force us to make things clearer and more precise because of their complaints and sometimes in anticipation of their complaints. In this way, difficult people make our ministry better because they force us to be clear and precise about what we want to do, and how we are going to do it.

5. Difficult People Show Me I Am Doing Something Right.

There is a common strand running through every major turning point of ministry, every breakthrough, every visible success, every time I could point to measurable results, or even every time I received some level of recognition. The common element in each of those things is the pestering presence of difficult people who opposed me every step along the way. I love people difficult people because they are one of the most reliable indicators I have been able to find to tell me that I am doing something right.

6. Difficult People Create Supporters.

A pastor needs meaningful friendships in order to endure. And in my case, some of my most meaningful partnerships and friendships in the ministry have been forged in response to the difficult people in a church. At times I have seen people become much more vocal supporters of me as a pastor because they have seen a critic’s harsh attack. I am grateful to have several significant friendships that were forged in direct response to difficult people.

7. Difficult People Make Me a Better Boss and a Better Subordinate.

Difficult people have helped me to see how important it is to recognize good work, applaud hard work and express appreciation. They also help me to see that not every opinion needs to be expressed. On the whole, I would like to believe that I am less critical of those who serve above me because of my experiences with difficult people.

8. Difficult People Drive Me To Prayer.

I wish this was not true, but it is. And if difficult people drive me to my knees in prayer, then I know they are a great gift. A.W. Tozer writes, “Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense, and he will have no other. But let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself.” Difficult people drive me nuts, so they drive me to my knees in prayer, and that is one of the reasons I have learned to love them.

9. Difficult People Are Not an Obstacle to Conquer.

I once heard someone give a sermon about Eliab, David’s older brother, who burned with anger against David when he was asking the men about Goliath (1 Samuel 17:28). The pastor pointed out how David had to choose in that moment to press on to defeat Goliath, or stop to fight his critics.

Critics are neither an indicator of success nor failure, so I have chosen in advance to battle giants, not critics. I have learned to love difficult people because loving them is an option. I do not want to be remembered as the man who triumphed over his critics; I want to be remembered as the man who triumphed over giants.

10. I Am Someone’s Difficult Person.

I know I have been a difficult person in someone’s life. Sometimes I appear difficult to another person because of a disagreement, sometimes it is just because of a personality conflict, and sometimes it comes with being a person in leadership. But I have learned to love difficult people because loving them is a way I can do unto others what I would have them to do me.

Learning from difficult people and learning to love them is still a work in progress, but I hope that someday I’ll be able to truly love difficult people as God loves difficult me.

This article was originally posted at SteveDunmire.com.  Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/10-things-i%E2%80%99ve-learned-difficult-people#tUIcsOltP9IqbjMq.99