Mistakes happen. How you handle them is what matters most.
Being the boss isn’t easy. There are undeniable benefits to being a leader, but being in charge requires you take responsibility and accountability over everything the company does, whether you’re directly involved or not.
When something goes wrong within an organization, it’s up to the boss to step up, claim responsibility, and figure out how to fix things. While it’s never fun to take the blame, especially when you don’t feel you’ve done anything wrong, public opinion is much more sympathetic to a leader who owns up to the company’s mistakes than one who attempts to shirk responsibility and deflect the blame elsewhere.
Listen first. Act second.
As a leader, your job isn’t just about hiring staff and then focusing on your day-to-day tasks. You also need to be aware of what’s happening in the various levels of your organization at all times. That’s one of the reasons that passing blame onto employees in the event of a problem in the business just won’t cut it: if an employee messes up, the leader is at fault, because it’s your job to keep the company running smoothly.
A great way to keep apprised of things is by encouraging employees to speak up when they’re having an issue. Early on in my career, I had the opportunity to decide where to focus some of the company budget, and I had the idea to invest in expanding a section of the business that I felt passionate about.
However, during a routine check-in with employees, I learned that several were struggling to keep up with their workload, which had recently increased as a result of a big new client. I decided to use the budget to hire additional staff to redistribute the workload, resulting in a team that felt valued and cared for, and an overall increase in productivity. I firmly believe that this helped prevent future mistakes, improve team morale, and avoid burnout.
Keep your cool.
Encourage more mistakes.
Some mistakes are made from laziness or error, but others are a sign of progress and innovation. Whatever happened, screwing up can be the most valuable method to learn and build from.
Mistakes also show the quality and passion of your team. The sign of a good employee is if they’re honest about their mistake, and then immediately offer a solution and plan to fix it.
When you’re in charge, it’s up to you to take control of decision making and stay on top of what everyone else is doing. However, empowering your team to make mistakes and proactively fix them will set you up for long term success.