Error Of Our Ways
As an HR Consultant and small business owner, I am often reminded of leadership lessons of the past. This past week, something occurred with one of my SoYo staff that caused me to reflect on something I learned many moons ago:
know the difference between a lack of judgment and a lack of character…
and know what to do about both.
I’m not talking about the “oops, I did that wrong” type of mistake.
Instead, I’m referring to the “crap, I shouldn’t have made that decision” type of mistake.
This error in judgment is a part of maturing, a part of developing, a part of growing as a professional. Had we not experienced the error, we probably would not have the intuition, the logic and the wisdom we have now!
When a member of our staff demonstrates a lack in judgment, we need to appreciate the situation for what it is – an opportunity to teach, a chance to mentor, a time to lead.
It might take minutes or hours from our day.
It typically involves patience.
It certainly demands empathy.
It undoubtedly requires forgiveness.
But as leaders…
- We must invest the time.
- We must demonstrate tolerance and fortitude.
- We must show our employees we understand and appreciate how the mistake was made.
- We must be willing to look beyond the moment, forgive the mistake and focus on the future.
Just as we made mistakes in our judgment, we have had flaws in our character.
I have had my fair share.
Over the course of my career, I have cut corners, I have lied, I have thrown others under the bus. I don’t think my boss, my customers and my peers always knew about these moments but that doesn’t make them any less true. Looking back, I realize I should have been exposed, I should have been disciplined, I should have been fired.
Am I lucky? Maybe
Am I empathetic to those who demonstrate similar character flaws? Perhaps
Am I mindful of what tempts a person to stray from “being good”? Yes
Am I trying to be a better person? Indeed, I am.
Therein lies the significance – the willingness to improve.
- We could do nothing.
- We could counsel.
- We could judge or discipline.
To help us decide, I propose we analyze what the perceived character flaw means to our business.
Does it conflict with our company’s values?
Does it threaten the efficiency and quality of our work and service?
Does it result in a loss of respect from our customers and other stakeholders?
Does it lead to our inability to succeed as a business?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, perhaps the flaw is not that big of a deal!
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, I propose we identify what the character flaw may mean to the employee.
Is he/she open to receiving feedback regarding the issue?
Does he/she understand or infer the results/consequences of the issue?
Is he/she willing to improve?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, I believe we need to appreciate the situation for what it is – an opportunity to teach, a chance to mentor, a time to lead.
It will take minutes or hours from our day.
It will involve patience.
It will demand empathy.
It will require forgiveness.
But it will be well worth it!