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  • Writer's pictureTroy Riggs

Overcoming Self-Inflicted Mistakes

Self-Inflicted Mistakes


There are a plethora of great leadership books, podcasts, and TED talks about leadership. In fact, I am often called upon to discuss leadership—specifically the challenges of leadership or the qualities of a servant leader.


The challenges of leadership are certainly immense. However, I have never been asked to speak about one of the greatest threats to leadership—the self-inflicted mistake. These mistakes can lower morale, cause public consternation, and sometimes threaten a position that took a lifetime to obtain.


Now, let me be clear: leaders are held to a higher standard and should be. It is clear many situations occur which are out of the leader's control but still result in termination of employment. I am not speaking of these types of situations.


I am focused more on when leaders lose their temper, say something they shouldn’t, or make a bad decision that has harmed the organization. These self-inflicted mistakes are difficult to overcome and can tarnish an otherwise stellar career.


My recommendation is always the same when it comes to handling these types of incidents. Here are some points to consider for those dealing with self-inflicted errors.


· Be honest—if you made a mistake, own it! Apologize, ask for forgiveness, and never do it again.


· Owning a mistake is just the first step in a plan to restore trust or explain how you will repair the situation.


· Most people are very forgiving towards those who have worked hard, been honest, and communicate frequently.


· Yes, self-inflicted mistakes are the most troublesome. These are painful but can usually be overcome with time and effort.


· A coverup or lying is not forgivable and will most certainly result in a complete loss of trust or ability to lead.


· The old saying the coverup is worse than the crime is certainly correct.


· As a leader, you have a moral responsibility and expectation to be honest. This should be the goal of every leader.


For those who are enduring a self-inflicted mistake and are honestly addressing it, stand firm. When a mistake is overcome, it can be a catalyst for building your character and offering hope for a better future.



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