3 Steps For Leaders To Recover Gracefully From Mistakes


3 Steps For Leaders To Recover Gracefully From Mistakes

I live and die by my work calendar, so I was annoyed that one of my team members had missed her one-on-one meeting with me. She did so without offering to reschedule or let me know personally that she was going to miss it.

Turns out, I was actually the one who messed up. I needed to apologize and own the mistake.

Here are the 3 things I did to own my mistake with my team member:

1) Ask, Don’t Accuse – Before I knew I was in the wrong, I asked her what had happened instead of blaming her. By setting up the conversation with a question, I was allowing for the option that I might be in the wrong. By doing so, it makes owning a mistake much easier than had I come right out and accused her.

“We had our 1:1 at 12:30. Where were you?”

2) Listen To Them – Instead of pushing my agenda of annoyance forward, I made sure to listen to what she was actually telling me. As it turns out, she didn’t have our one-on-one on her calendar because I had never sent her an invite for it. That was my mistake, and I only found that out by listening to what she was saying.

3) Apologize and Course Correct – As soon as I realized that it was my error for not having her on the calendar invite, I said I was sorry. But saying sorry is only the first step. I quickly added her to the invite and confirmed with her so we both are on the same page moving forward.

“Looks like you aren’t on the invite, so that’s my fault. Sorry about that. I just fixed it for the future. Thanks for letting me know.”

Leadership isn’t about perfection. Leadership is messy – and the more people you have on your team, the messier it will be.

Leaders make mistakes all the time with their teams. The quicker they can realize their mistake, own it, apologize, and course correct for the future, the better they will be able to lead their team.

Tom Krieglstein

I train leaders & give Free Hugs. Founder of Swift Kick. Member of EO, TechStars, and YEC.