The Leadership Path is Paved with Mistakes….

Posted on September 28, 2013 by


The leadership path is often paved with mistakes.  These mistakes, both minor and major, are the metal that can either forge or destroy leaders and their reputations along the way.  The reality is that there is no such thing as a perfect leader, there are leaders who have honed their skill through trial and error.  They realize that in order to of great service to their organizations and even society, that they have to evolve as people and as leaders and part of that evolution involves making and learning from mistakes.

Some of the common mistakes include:

  • Letting others “yes” you out of a job
  • Becoming disconnected
  • Putting one’s own interests ahead of the company/organization

Letting others “Yes” you out of a job

Leaders like to think that they know everything and have all the right answers.  The reality is that the team will out think you 80% of the time, so welcome their feedback.  Involving the team in discussions regarding decisions to be made gives them ownership of the decision and creates a sense of engagement.  By surrounding oneself with individuals who hesitate or never question things or suggest alternatives prevents the growth of the leader and the organization, and creates a strategic blind spot or myopic view that will surely result in failure.

Becoming disconnected

It is always challenging for the leader to manage all of the demands of the day.  Part of that challenge includes spending time with those that are closest to key areas of the business.  Use breaks in the day to engage in coffee talk with employees at all levels of the organization to gain insight.  Doing so connects the leader to the people being led but also gives the leader the opportunity to see things from ground zero.  The further away from ground zero a leader becomes, the easier it is to create and operate in a myopic vantage point that can only negatively impact the organization and those in it.

Putting one’s own interests ahead of the company/organization

Harvard Business Review (HBR) has an excellent 7 minute video (attached) that truly sums up this type of mistake.

Leaders that are smart recognize that they are not perfect and that they will make mistakes. These individuals embrace missteps and mistakes as opportunities to grow.  As a leader, recognize that mistakes will happen.  The key is to allow the experience to create wisdom that informs actions.