Something about those words doesn’t sit well. Maybe they just don’t roll off the tongue. Phonetically, maybe it just doesn’t blend right? Or perhaps, it’s too difficult a reminder that we don’t have all the answers…
Over the last several months I’ve grown to be convinced that no words are more crucial for the vocabulary of a leader than these three. I’m also confident that no three words are more challenging to truly mean.
So why are they difficult?
Admitting being wrong means admitting a shortcoming. By nature, being wrong implies a shortcoming. A failure. An error. It means that someone doesn’t have all the answers. Pride wrestles with this sentiment, because they cannot coexist. The ideology of being large and in charge merely cannot sit alongside of the recognition of wrong-ness. Take a look at politicians. With some exception, the majority of politicians will never admit that they have been wrong out of a fear of no longer being viewed as competent or qualified.
If it is so difficult, why is it important?
Because of what it communicates to those around you. When a leader admits his mistakes, it opens him up to those he leads. It leaves room for humility, for growth, for correction. A leader who cannot admit his or her mistakes is a leader who cannot grow! Growth flows out of a recognition of a shortcoming and a desire to do something about it.
For the believer living as a part of the Body, admitting when one is wrong is vital. Without this key, pride will swell, tension will grow, and disunity will reign as king.
“Admission of a mistake, even if only privately to yourself, makes learning possible by moving the focus away from blame assignment and towards understanding…
Wise people admit their mistakes easily.
They know progress accelerates when they do.”- Scott Berkun
A leader with a humble heart towards those he or she is leading will admit his shortcomings easily and often. Because they recognize the need for it. They see that their becoming better must come as a result of seeing where they need to improve. At the end of the day, all men and women make mistakes. So why try and hide it? Because even if you don’t realize when you’re wrong, those around you do.
A leader who can’t admit when they are wrong is a leader who has made improvement impossible for themselves. A leader who is open about their shortcomings paves the way for their own growth through their humility.
Be sure to keep an eye on your own fallibility.
Those who you’re leading most certainly already are.
If you’re looking for more wisdom in admitting your failures, check out leadership and philosophy author Scott Berkun’s thoughts here and see what you can glean!