One thing that personally annoys me is when people cannot admit they made mistakes. Another thing is when circumstances or rules prevent them from correcting the error.
I think about US President George W. Bush’s admission a few years ago, after beginning the Iraq war on the premise that weapons of mass destruction were being hidden there, that there were no weapons of mass destruction there. Despite this admission, Bush tried to justify the war anyway and never admitted to a mistake.
I think back to earlier this year when baseball umpire Jim Joyce made an erroneous call that cost pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game (the ultimate feat for a baseball pitcher). While Joyce apologized, Major League Baseball’s “system” prevents such a call from being overturned.
I think back to a personal purchase of mine last week where I asked for a refund on the basis that the service did not produce the results promised and how the management implied that my lack of satisfaction could have been due to my lack of understanding of what I was buying and they’d need to investigate the matter. I eventually successfully negotiated that refund though I would contend that I should not have had to work for it.
As a business leader, I don’t feel that I’m allergic to the act of apologizing. The words “I’m sorry” and “my fault” are in my vocabulary. I don’t feel that saying these things makes me weaker. I feel that it makes me stronger because I can continue to be followed after-the-fact.
But why is admitting mistakes uncommon among leaders? Doesn’t the arrogance of refusing to admit a mistake turn followers off and make one less influential?
When future generations study the George W. Bushes of the world, will they write that the description of a great leader is someone who refuses to admit mistakes? Do your leadership idols admit mistakes? Do you?
To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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