When You Are Wrong, Own It!

leadership Mar 21, 2018

None of us like being wrong, let me rephrase that - I hate being wrong, but guess what? I will get it really upside down sometimes. I think my wife believes I have a special gifting in this area, for getting things wrong I mean. If you lead a team, there will be occasions when your team will fail and you will need to step up, at other times all the fault will lay at your feet.

One of the most annoying human foibles is pretending it wasn't our responsibility or trying to deflect the blame, this is wrong on several counts:

  • Everyone knows, so stop pretending
  • It is disrespectful to anyone who was hurt through our actions
  • People lose respect for us
  • People won't trust us in the future
  • If we pretend the problem isn't ours it won't get fixed.

In the news this week we read of how The Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has been cross examined over allegations of sexual abuse by clergy. Did he personally carry out any of these terrible things, absolutely not, but he has the big desk and the problem landed on it.

How did he respond? He used words like ashamed, horrifying, and atrocious. He went on to point out flaws in the churches culture that allowed these dreadful things to happen. None of this will change what has happened, but he has at least honoured the survivors, he is pointing towards a solution and I believe he will make changes. 

As someone who has spent nearly two decades in education, and also a church leader, this story is very close to home. Do I defend or excuse what took place, NEVER! However, my respect for Justin Welby as a leader has increased, and I have some hope that he will instigate the changes that are desperately needed.

What about you? I hope that you never have to deal with something as sickening as what we have discussed, but are you confident enough to own you mistakes and responsibilities? If so, then they can become agents for change and a better future. If not, we stay in the dark and the cycle continues.

When we own our mistakes, we grow from them - when we deny them, we shrink our humanity.

Let's be sure that when we fail, we fail forward.

Go well my friend.

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