Help! I’ve fell down. I need Help!
Have you ever made mistakes? Mistakes will define your character. We all make them. It’s how you deal with the mistake that will set you apart and define your character. Leaders do not play the blame game and they do not implement a cover-up. Leaders step in front of the bus. There is no single, greater act a Leader can perform to earn the respect and loyalty of those they lead than that of “the defender”! Success requires taking risks in life. If a Leader has not instilled the confidence in those they lead to attempt and fail without fear of reprisal, no one will innovate.
When asked about his many failures there is a well-known quote from Thomas while inventing the light bulb. Edison reportedly said, “I have not failed one thousand times; I have successfully discovered one thousand ways not to make a light bulb”. But, what many might not know is that Edison shared his perspective, that each failure was a success, with all of his employees from the very first failure. While disappointment and set-backs are common occurrences in most pursuits, Leaders encourage. Encouragement breeds success. To quote Winston Churchill, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm”. Leaders keep the momentum going; especially during those times where others might want to throw in the towel.
The important thing about mistakes is to learn from them. I made a few doozies during my time. Early on at the company where I was just starting out in telecoms, the business Leaders for a major initiative stopped by my cube. The system being developed needed a user to log on to two separate systems. Single sign-on, at that time, was unheard of. A user would have to log onto each system and back then there were many, one at time, as each log on screen popped up. The business very much wanted to have this headache go away. I had been asked to assist on the solution.
The Customer Operations Manager, along with a few other business executives, had stopped by to see how things were progressing. The Senior Manager of Tech Systems Support, who we’ll call Jason, just happened to be passing my cube and overheard me telling the business executives that I was very close to a solution. Suddenly, my phone rang. It was Jason. He instructed me to “politely” tell the business Leaders that there was a situation that required my immediate attention and to wrap up my conversation with them and then come down to his office. I did as instructed. When I entered Jason’s office, he asked me to close the door and to have a seat.
Jason then told me “just how things were done in this company”. Jason went on to say, “It’s great that you’re close to having a solution, but we never, never share anything with the business until we’ve talked amongst ourselves and established a price”. What I didn’t know was that solutions were sold to the business; not provided free. Harry instructed me to inform the business that I had run into some hurdles and that it was going to take a little longer than anticipated, if successful at all. Although the team completed the single sign-on approach the following day, it wasn’t offered to the business for almost another 6 weeks. By then, the negotiated price for the solution was worked out and then it was implement. I learned from my mistake and followed the prescribed way of doing business from that day on.
It should be noted that Jason spoke to me in a calm manner. He knew I was new to the organization and didn’t know the ropes. Jason could have gone through me for a short cut but didn’t. He was a smart man, a good Leader, and someone who, over the two years I was there, came to respect. The majority of us, when we do make a mistake, are as much upset with ourselves as those our mistake may have impacted. A good Manager or Leader will not exacerbate the situation in an attempt to make those who perpetrated the error feel even worse. Then again, for someone who is incapable of owning up to their mistakes, learning from them and then moving on, this will be a problem. Judge accordingly and then take the appropriate steps.
Mistakes can be repaired, have you made a mistake with your job and career choice? You always have time to change it. Take a risk and become a Leader. Help yourself by helping other change their lives. Take a look at this video.