Good leaders make mistakes…and admit it!

It’s not easy for most people, especially leaders to admit when they are wrong.  Acknowledging that something went wrong on your watch, with your company or department can be very difficult.

Added to that, when you are in a leadership position, that is guiding people, there is a much more intensified awareness of responsibility and culpability.  Because of this, you’ll find there to be an artificial assumption that you must always get things right.

Coming forward and accepting your mistakes will not only set an example for your team members but it becomes a learning experience and will show your company what a great leader you are.

Leaders may deal with recognizing their mistakes in different ways, it is not the errors you make, but the way you deal with them, that characterizes you and your company.

Do most leaders promptly admit mistakes when they happen?

Not always…but they should.

Here’s why…

  • It builds credibility with your colleagues…Nothing makes people believe in you quicker than telling the truth and owning the responsibility of doing something wrong. The more you allow others to understand you as a leader by admitting mistakes, the greater trust they will have in your leadership and there will be fewer prejudgments made regarding your future intentions.
  • It shows how much you respect others…If you cannot admit to mistakes, even when the facts are obvious, shows how little regard you have for the people you are speaking to.
  • It reveals your authenticity…The strength to admit a mistake gives friends and colleagues the security and openness to do the same.
  • It provides permission…Admitting a mistake gives others permission to make them too and sooner or later when they do, those you lead will be more disposed to share it.
  • It reinforces your leadership…Your team will respect a leader with the integrity to assume responsibility for mistakes, decisions, and results.

As leaders, it’s important to be the first to step up and be open, acknowledge mistakes and express regret when needed.  It will nurture a very human, real affection within the team and the organization.

The difficulty with failing to admit you were wrong is that it forces you to defend the unfortunate decisions you have made, even when you know better.  You will also continue to be sluggish and inactive…there’s no moving forward.

Admitting your mistakes will help yourself and your business to flourish and grow.  By owning up to it, you can isolate the problem, assemble resources and begin resolving the problem.

And that is the sign of strong leadership!

How do you encourage admitting mistakes in your company?


Dave Baney is the founder and CEO of 55 Questions, LLC and author of “The 3×5 Coach: A Practical Guide to Coaching Your Team for Greater Results and Happier People”, which is now available in Paperback or a Kindle version at

At 55 Questions, we work with successful top executives with a driving ambition to crush their competition.  We help CEOs and Entrepreneurs improve alignment, communication and accountability throughout their organization.

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