Evaluating and Learning From Leadership Mistakes


Jay Vineyard offers 8 practical suggestions for evaluating and learning from leadership mistakes.

Mistake recovery is the new leadership competency. Leaders need to know how to appropriately handle leadership mistakes that they make and take appropriate action. Perhaps the most important action a leader can take in the process of recovery is to honestly assess the “whys” of the mistake and learn from them. Every leader inevitably will make major to serious mistakes in their career; the key is not to repeat the mistake. Unless the leader honestly evaluates how the mistake occurred, you can repeat it and put your career in jeopardy.

How can a leader evaluate and learn from mistakes? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Identify the problem. What went wrong? Was the mistake in the decision itself or in the implementation?
  2. Brainstorm potential causes. Determine the underlying cause of the mistake by asking “why” multiple times. Was the mistake caused by a personal flaw, rush of life, not enough information or poor relational skills? When determining the cause of the mistake the leader can take steps to eliminate future problems.
  3. Get feedback from those who were involved in the decision. Utilizing the same principles as above by asking “why,” diagnose the mistake with those involved were involved in the decision process. Ask, “Why did this happen?” at least 5 times to move beyond symptoms and identify the core problem. A courageous action will be to talk to those who disagreed with the decision and get their feedback.
  4. Talk to trusted advisers about the mistake and get feedback.
  5. Secure a life coach who will talk you through the process of why you made the mistake and help you avoid a similar mistake in the future.
  6. Brainstorm potential solutions to the problem.
  7. Create an action plan to assure the mistake is not repeated.
  8. Have trusted advisers give accountability.

Written by Jay Vineyard

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