How often are you wrong as a leader? Let’s not kid ourselves; we’re not perfect. We make a lot of bad decisions over the course of our career. I’m dealing with a situation now in which I made a bad call – it happens. What do you do when you miss it? Your answer to this question will have a tremendous impact on your long-term success as a leader!
One of the leaders I admire challenged me years ago, not to deliberate too long when making a decision. He said, “Half the time you’ll be wrong regardless. What do you think you do with the other half of your time? You work to manage the consequences of your bad decisions.”
I don’t know if you’re wrong half the time or not – I’ve been trying for years to improve my batting average. Here’s my advice when you realize you’ve made a bad decision…
Own it – Leaders accept responsibility; they rarely blame others. Even if you weren’t directly involved, if the mistake, or bad decision, occurred on your watch by someone you lead, it’s yours. When it comes to bad decisions you were involved in, or made yourself, it will destroy your credibility if you try to pass the buck to someone else.
Evaluate it – Take time to analyze the situation. What happened? Why did it happen? How did the context affect your decision? Did you have good information to work with? If not, why not? Experience is NOT the best teacher, only EVALUTATED experience adds value.
Learn from it – If you and I don’t change our behavior going forward based on a bad decision, we really haven’t learned from our experience. What can you do differently based on the lessons of a bad decision? Is there a better process? Are there other people who might need to be involved in similar decisions in the future? We can all get better at making decisions if we’re willing to change our behaviors going forward.
Correct it… if you can – Although many decisions are irreversible, some can be changed. Others decisions can be modified to create a more desirable outcome. One suggestion from Jimmy Collins in his book, Creative Followership, is to make your decisions and then make them good. His point: after you’ve made a decision, the real work begins. Make sure your decision creates the highest and best outcome possible – even if you have to amend it to make it so.
Every time we make a bad decision, we have an opportunity to learn from it. If we do this well, our batting average will go up![GLS_Shield]
Author: Mark Miller
Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.