The Power Of Vulnerability As A Leader
By Tyler Bray, CEO, owner, & founder of The Trailer Parts Outlet.
Let’s talk about a difficult subject to navigate as a leader: how you handle your own mistakes in front of the team. If we take a moment to be honest with ourselves, there’s a part of us that never wants to make mistakes, and we certainly don’t want to admit them. However, I believe that not letting your ego hold you back is one of the most important aspects of growth for any leader.
Let’s take the story of a recent experience I had that I believe illustrates how to handle your own mistakes, and how even your own blunders actually hold opportunity.
What I Did
The situation was fairly simple. I had called a number of my key people together for a meeting. In some cases, it was the first time people were meeting each other, or even the first time they were meeting me in person. We all know how important first impressions are. But my prior meetings ran long, I needed to stop for gas and traffic was congested. Long story short, I was running late for my own meeting, and it was my own fault. This was even after I had repeatedly talked to my team about timeliness! It wasn’t a good look.
A leader has a few options in a scenario like this. Ignore the obvious, blame someone else or just expect your team to deal with it. However, “do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work in real life. That said, your own blunders are opportunities. Each one of them gives you an opportunity to model the best way to handle mistakes for your team. If handled correctly, your mistakes can become tools to strengthen your team. I’ll tell you what I did and then illustrate some simple benefits of this approach.
How I Handled My Mistake
I owned up to my tardiness immediately and asked everyone present to send me their Starbucks order. I showed up to the meeting with ten drinks in my hands. I think it turned a delay into a fun moment for everybody, a little bit of bonding, a small memory.
What Are You Afraid Of?
Ask yourself this question when you realize you’ve made a mistake as a leader. Hopefully, you’ve built a team you can be honest with. If not, you have bigger problems to solve than a simple mistake. Remember these words: Honestly equals credibility. An honest approach to your own mistakes and a clear plan of action and solutions will only increase your credibility in the eyes of your team.
The Bonds Of Trust Strengthen
Guess what? In business, your best people, your key players, will make mistakes, no matter how intelligently you hire. But when you deal with your mistakes with humility and honesty, you silently give them permission to do the same thing. This might save your business! You should want your people to tell you what you need to know, not what they think you want to hear.
The final note is that your team will mimic your behavior as a leader. If you ignore problems and pass the buck, so will they. If you greet your own errors with humility and a plan for a solution, so will they.