Today, where I live the cold air of winter has come sweeping through. I live where there are four distinct seasons with winter seeming to be the most uniquely distinct. We are promised two to four inches of snow this weekend. The weatherman informed me this morning that next week we will go several days with temperatures below freezing! As a child I did not mind snow, I loved playing in it, throwing snowballs, and sledding. Today, not so much. I will admit that if I am sitting inside and drinking coffee and peering out the frosted window it is beautiful. As I mature I find summer is the season that I love the most. So what does my musings about weather and seasons have to do with anything? I am glad you asked! Life is filled with seasons: childhood, youth, college perhaps, jobs, marriage, kids, retirement and so on. What season are your residing in today?
There are seasons for individuals, families, churches, and nations. I have experienced various seasons in my leadership as well. Most of my leadership was learned on the job or by trial and error, mostly error. Having spent many hours and dollars attending various leadership conferences over the years, I have never heard anyone stand up in front and spend a session highlighting their failures and misfires. Why not? I have learned many important things about myself and leadership by my missteps. I did not intend to fail, but in fact many of my pet projects were duds!!
May I give you an invaluable leadership lesson, may I say life lesson, “admit your mistakes.” Failing to admit our mistakes does not make them less wrong, nor does it hide the truth from anyone. One reason to admit your mistakes is, then you can join the rest of the folks who are already aware that it was a mistake! I have this feeling that we undermine our leadership ability severely by not acknowledging reality. Let me give you my perspective, rather than losing confidence in you as a leader because you admitted a mistake, the reverse is true. People have more confidence in following a leader who says I was wrong, that did work out as I had calculated, let’s try something else.
Pride keeps us from admitting mistakes! Pride is the biggest obstacle to leadership effectiveness. Somewhere the thought became lodged in many leaders minds, “I can’t ever be wrong or make a mistake.” Not only can I be wrong, I have been wrong several times in my life. I am the leader, I am always right. This seems to be the standard operating procedure for so many leaders. Most of the times I am called on to mediate a situation, at the core seems to be a lack of owning up to decisions and situations. Several times situations could have been salvaged if someone, the leader would have said “I think I messed up here, I am sorry, please forgive me.” Often we go into a corner and harden our positions. How much conflict could be easily avoided by a fair appraisal of the facts.
Now, I am not trying to say that if you say you are sorry there will never be conflict. Conflict is a part of life. And of course some conflict is over principles and cannot be compromised. There is no more attractive quality in a leader than humility. Leader, learn to own your part in every situation. Then learn to laugh at yourself! Those who learn to laugh at themselves never run out of material. Hey, if that doesn’t work, get a dog!
Just a thought