by Steve DiGioia, Featured Contributor
As a manager, supervisor or leader of a team or department, we are always right. We always make the correct decisions, we always lead the team in the right direction, and we are the most qualified persons with all the answers. How wrong can this thinking be?
Once we believe all this rhetoric we are doomed to fail. Doomed to fail ourselves and our team.
Mid-level supervisors are especially susceptible to this way of thinking. They may have just been promoted from a “line-level” employee for doing their job well but now they are thrust into a supervisory position where they must not only oversee the actions of others but chart a course for themselves as well. But that doesn’t mean that they now have all the answers.
One of the quickest ways to lose the respect of your team is to think you are always right. Just because you were recently promoted does that mean that you have experienced all the various situations of your job? Does that mean that you have steered through a confusing maze of indecision and assorted actions to find the correct solutions to the business needs ahead? Have you done your job without making mistakes? Of course not!
So when these mistakes happen, what do you do? Do you cover up your shortcomings so no one would know? Do you “play innocent” as if you have no idea how this happened? Do you just shrug your shoulders and hope the issue goes away? Or do you take this opportunity to gain the respect of your team?
A real leader realizes that he/she doesn’t have all the answers or constantly makes the only correct decision. And when the mistake happens he accepts responsibility for the mistake, especially if another coworker had previously offered a different approach that was turned down.
A sample conversation could go like this:
Leader: “We did this wrong, it doesn’t work”
Follower: “I told you we should have done it the way I recommended”
Leader: “I made a mistake, you were right. We should have done it your way”. “I like your way of thinking and appreciate your willingness to offer assistance. Next time, why don’t we both get together and come up with a plan of action, then work on it as a team?” “I know I don’t have all the answers and would like your input moving forward”
Follower: “That’s great, I will be happy to help”. “Thank you for realizing my contributions, it means a lot to me”.
Now, this may be an over-simplified version of a conversation but you should get my point. Take a mistake on your part and turn it into a positive action that can unite your team under your leadership.
You will never be able to do this when you don’t accept that you are wrong.