How to Rectify a Serious Leadership Mistake

We’re having a new kitchen fitted this week, and we discovered yesterday that an erroneous measurement on behalf of the designer means we’ll have to wait another three days for replacement units to arrive.

While not a life and death situation, it is rather irritating and puts the completion of our exciting project back further. Despite this, I do have some sympathy; the guy made a mistake - we’ve all done that, and it was a timely reminder of mistakes I’ve made in the past while in charge of a team.

There’s no getting away from the fact that, as a leader, your mistakes will be thrust into the spotlight for all to see. You can’t hide from them, nor should you attempt to apportion blame elsewhere. Any mistake you make is your own, and it’s up to you to sort it out.

Here’s how to rectify the worst of leadership mistakes.

Own it

Embrace the mistake you’ve made. Make it clear to all that you accept full responsibility and don’t expect anyone else to step forward and shoulder the blame.

If you own the mistakes you make as a leader, you’ll be in control of their resolution - never forget that.

Learn from brands

Businesses make mistakes all the time. An ill-judged marketing campaign, poor hire or inadequate bout of product testing are perfect examples of errors from which brands have to work hard to recover.

They do this by leaning on a number of tried-and-tested methods that help repair the damage and diminish any lasting effects. You can do the same, because leadership is very much about building a personal brand, and one that your team members are able to trust and approach. Shirk your responsibilities or point the finger of blame elsewhere, and you’ll quickly lose any respect you’ve previously gained.

Don’t dwell

Ruing the day you made the mistake isn’t going to fix it, which is why it’s vitally important to move on as quickly as you can.

By dwelling on the error, you’ll only prolong the pain, so instead, work fast on the resolution. Learn from what you did wrong and put in a plan that will ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Fix it and move on!

Face the consequences

Serious leadership errors will usually be accompanied by serious consequences, some of which may result in some of your darkest days at work.

It’s important you face such challenges head-on, because avoiding them or passing the buck to someone else within the business will mean you miss out on a vital learning opportunity. It won’t be easy, but just like tackling a fear of flying will enable you to explore the world, facing the consequences of serious errors will teach you to be a better leader.

Follow up once resolved

When you’ve mentally ticked off the ‘resolved’ box, the work to rectify your error doesn’t end. You need to follow up as often as possible to ensure you’re keeping to your promises and implementing the stuff you’ve learned.

Big mistakes leave something of a black mark on one’s profile, but what separates leaders from the rest is their ability to embrace those black marks and use them as an example of how one might reach greater heights.

Wrapping up

My kitchen will get finished. Equally, the mistakes I’ve made in the past may not be forgotten, but they have made me a better leader.

We’re all human - it’s just some of us are more comfortable with how infallible we are. In my mind, that’s the true essence of a leader.