“A man should never be ashamed to say he has been wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.” – Alexander Pope
People love being right. Better yet, people love being told they are right. And oftentimes, people will stubbornly defend their position and ideas in an effort to prove just how correct they think they are.
We would be naive to think that we are always right. There is just no possible way that every decision we make, word we say, or answer we give is the correct one. Yet, somehow it is really hard for us to let go of this. We refuse to admit that we may not have all the answers. It may somehow, someway make us weaker, less intelligent, and/or more vulnerable.
Well, let me be the first person to tell you the quickest way I was able to earn respect and trust from others. I started using the words I was wrong when I actually was.
People make mistakes. Leaders make the wrong decisions. It happens. We do not want it to, but it does. However, a true leader is not afraid to admit his shortcomings. He will readily admit when he is wrong. By doing so, respect is earned from everyone under his leadership.
True leaders do not want to be surrounded by a bunch of yes men. By constantly being fed a yes to every idea, the leader is not challenged. Yes men are the worst people a leader can be surrounded by if he wants to progress and succeed. A leader needs his thoughts and ideas to be challenged and critiqued.
Being willing to challenge a leader and a leader’s willingness to be challenged creates the ideal environment for any team and/or organization. This promotes a team environment. The leader makes the ultimate decisions, but receives valuable input from those around him. The leader then provides praise to his teammates for a job well done, and admits he is wrong when things do not go according to plan.
We all remember the terrible friend, boss, coach or captain who knew it all. We could tell stories for days about their relentless pursuit of being right. These are the people and companies we advise people not to be like and to avoid.
If you want to really be remembered, be that coach or person who uses those three words that will floor your players or others. They are not used to hearing them, except for us constantly reminding them how wrong they are. But, admitting that you were wrong and owning it builds trust. If you are trying to teach accountability, this is the easiest way to do it.
So you messed up? No big deal. Be accountable to yourself. Do not make excuses. Avoid taking the easy way out or hiding behind someone else. Own it. Admit it. Learn and grow from it.
I was wrong. These words do not make you weak. In fact, when used appropriately, they may be the most powerful words you can say as a leader.
Bring your best today!