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Suck It Up, Buttercup

Here’s a shocker for you: you’re not perfect. You might think you’re damn good in some areas, and maybe you are. Your team might put you on a pedestal, and that’s okay to a certain extent. You might strive for perfection in your projects, tasks, and relationships, but the bottom line is that no matter how hard you try to be great, you are going to eff up. It’s inevitable, and it’s okay.


First of all, being self-aware of your own strengths and areas of vulnerability will help when that mistake happens. Use your natural talents and gifts first. Rely on what you know – tap into your knowledge, your past experiences, and your innate abilities – to manage activities and responsibilities. Do what you can as best you can with what you have. On the other hand, when you know that you need to work on something that isn’t your strong suit, ask for help. Utilize the assets of others to learn from and to bolster your areas of opportunity.


And then . . . it hits the fan. You messed up. You missed a deadline. You made a poor decision. Whatever the misstep is, you can recover, and recovery starts with admission of your mistake. Some managers feel that fessing up indicates a sign of weakness, and in reality, the opposite is true. Your willingness to acknowledge and own your error is a sincere example of leadership. Be honest with your team. They know you dropped the ball, and by being straightforward with them, you become real. In that moment, you have the space to recognize where you went wrong, to understand the consequences, and to implement a follow up action plan. Witnessing how you humbly handle the situation and your willingness to correct the concern gives your team members the confidence to know that they, too, can overcome any mistakes they might make.


In addition, every lapse is an opportunity to learn. Your knowledge might come at a great expense, but if you frame the situation as a chance to improve, the “cost” might not feel so painful. Whether in admission to your superiors, your colleagues, or your employees, acceptance and ownership of the issue and its repercussions shows one of the truest characteristics that distinguish a good leader from a great one: humility.

guilty dog and big mess


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