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You have heard these ploys dozens of times: “I had no control over that decision,” “That’s not handled by our department,” or “Those policies are industry regulated.” An inability to own personal mistakes creates weak, untrustworthy leadership, but an effective leader takes responsibility. Why? Here are a few good reasons.

  1. Owning your mistakes builds credibility. There is no stronger support when you are right on an issue than to have proven yourself when you were wrong. People will trust you and believe you are telling the truth because they have seen you do so in difficult situations.
  1. Admitting a mistake shows respect for others. To continue to insist that no fault lies at your door, even in the face of evidence to the contrary implies the utter ignorance of the people around you. Insisting on your own version of a situation disregards those around you, and is always disrespectful.
  1. Showing honesty in mistakes demonstrates humility. Openness to the idea that you could be wrong shows poise, confidence, and emotional maturity. Humility is an effective leadership skill that should come from the heart and will often be evidenced in such situations.
  1. Demonstrating integrity paves the way for others. When a leader is honest about his or her mistake, it creates an atmosphere where others can be honest about their own mistakes. This increases trust and improves the working relationships for all involved.
  1. Speaking the truth in difficult situations strengthens your leadership. Not surprisingly, the ability to say you are wrong builds confidence and trust in your leadership. Although skirting responsibility may be commonplace, but it is never respected, nor does it display effective leadership skills.

Fear the leader who sees no fault in himself. Pity the leader who can’t communicate when he is wrong.

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