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Daily Leadership Thought #138 – Can You Admit It When You Are Wrong?


“Pride does goeth before the fall.”  It never ceases to amaze me how many people especially leaders can’t admit it when they are wrong.   It’s almost as if the sheer fact of admitting their mistakes will make them weak and vulnerable to others.  Our last president couldn’t even come up with one mistake when frequently queried about his handling of two major wars.  In multiple press conferences you could tell there was an inner struggle going within him and defensiveness about what to say or not say.  The press was quite frankly stunned by his lack of a response.  I don’t for second believe he didn’t have anything to offer.  He just believed he couldn’t be seen admitting error publicly.

He is not alone.  Whether it is politicians at every conceivable level of government, business executives testifying in front of congress, entertainment personalities coming unhinged in a very public manner, athletes caught cheating or sadly even religious and spiritual leaders, it has become passé to admit you are wrong and apologize.  It’s become more convenient to ignore, rationalize, blame others or claim some level of situational uniqueness or entitlement. The only thing that seems to spur people into action is if it is career threatening not to take responsibility.

So much wasted energy and damage is created by people who simply won’t own up to their faults or misdeeds.  In fact, it is often much worse then if they would have come clean in the first place.   Making mistakes mean you are human.  We all stumble and fall and hopefully learn from it.   Making the same mistakes out of sheer hubris is not.  Moreover, covering up these mistakes often leads to worse consequences.  Avoidance never works in life.  It only ever means the problem will be delayed, fester and ultimately blow up in your face if you are not careful.

Careers and lives have been ruined by pride.  Leadership is about having integrity and building trust.  If you are not straight with voters, customers, employees, colleagues, friends, or your family, they will inevitably find out.   Better to come clean, apologize, ask for help (if needed), state what you’ve learned from the situation and commit to being smarter/better in the future.  No one is perfect but your flaws or errors in judgment rarely have to be fatal.

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One Response

  1. Thanks for adding me! Honored.

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