Question: How many of us have team members that have stumbled?
Answer: All of us.
Reactions, Fear and True Colors
Mistakes are one of the most important opportunities for leaders to demonstrate to the rest of the team what they are all about. Are anger, harsh words or the proverbial cold shoulder part of your leadership playbook "to make a point?" Guess what?
You are an abject failure.
Strong words? Yep.
Accurate? Hell, yes.
If we take a moment and put ourselves in the place of our employee who has made the error, we must realize they are feeling more anxiety than we are. They have failed. They are "in trouble." They may even have put their employment status in jeopardy.
Now, which one of us is more stressed?
In that moment when we feel a surge of energy, and the myriad consequences are rapidly processing through our heads...
...that is exactly when we need to show who we are as leaders. Our true colors.
What is often forgotten in our haste to react, to correct the error, and to normalize operations, is that not only is the employee watching our every move; but so is the rest of the team.
If you still believe that employees are not discussing when and how they are held accountable for their mistakes you are completely out of touch with reality.
Instead, consider those moments as the perfect chance to balance accountability with compassion. Take a moment to consider what you will say, and how you will deliver the message. I call this the "one second rule" - literally, give yourself one second to decide.
The manner in which you treat the employee will be shared, discussed, and evaluated either positively or negatively. Quite honestly, I'm counting on that discussion to occur. It is an opportunity to give real insight into one's leadership style under a very private set of circumstances that is not readily visible.
How About You
Do you want to be known as some sort of prehistoric leadership dinosaur that "goes off" on people? Or, would you prefer to be known as the leader who is fair, approachable, but still firm when necessary?
One last question..have you ever made a mistake? How did you want to be treated?
I thought so.
I'd love to hear from you.