the shape of leadership

9 Benefits of Owning Your Mistakes

To err is human, but to admit error is the mark of a good leader.

Influence Magazine on August 2, 2018

To err is human. No one is perfect. So why does it hurt so much to admit your mistakes?


If you hide your faults and cover up your errors, you will find your blind spots growing and your effectiveness shrinking. Owning your mistakes, on the other hand, can be a powerful tool of leadership. Here are ways that owning those mistakes can enhance your influence.


1. Turn negatives into positives.

When leaders own their mistakes, they create a learning experience. Although there may be consequences to your errors, you will come away with something you didn’t know before. It’s not about being perfect in the future, it’s about being better prepared.


2. Earn respect.

One reason leaders don’t own their mistakes is the presumption that doing so will make matters worse. It adds shame to guilt. However, owning up to what you did wrong will help those you lead see you in a new light with more respect.


3. Establish trust.

It can also help you reestablish trust. You might have done something to break the trust you’ve tried so hard to craft. The first step is to admit your own fault. That can go a long way to restoring that bond.  

The sooner you own your mistakes, the quicker you can get back to leading the vision God has given you.


4. Display courage.

It takes bravery to lead with humility. So many people are watching your every move. When you mess up, they probably already know. When you own that mistake, you let them know that you’re strong enough to admit it and not let it affect your future performance.


5. Face your fears.

Some leaders don’t own their mistakes because of an overriding fear of failure. To admit a mistake is to admit defeat. However, facing your fears is the only way to get over them. Take charge by owning up quickly, facing the music and moving forward fearlessly.


6. Prevent larger problems.

Don’t allow small mistakes to become bigger problems later on. Instead, own up to what you did wrong when you did them to correct course quicker. There’s nothing more detrimental to the success of a strategic plan than covering up miscues that can affect outcomes.


7. Dismantle pride.

Everyone makes mistakes, so owning them should be something every leader does. Those who don’t are fooling themselves more than anyone else. And pride is the biggest culprit to this blindness. It takes real humility to admit when you’re wrong. Pride, on the other hand, can cripple any ministry. Owning mistakes may be the best way to dismantle pride. 


8. Enhance relationships.

Owning your mistakes increases your social equity in the group. First of all, you show everyone that you’re as human as they are. That makes you increasingly relatable to them. But it can also solidify the group dynamics as you are honest about your struggles, failures and need for help.


9. Invite grace.

When you own your mistake, you will find a group of people ready to shower you with grace instead of judgment. There may be some who want to shame or guilt you, sure, but admitting you’re wrong is the only way to allow those who love and support to show it.


Whether it’s a major mistake or a minor error, whether you must admit the wrong one-on-one or to an entire group, own your mistakes quickly. The sooner you do, the quicker you can get back to leading the vision God has given you.

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