A blog about reputation, marketing and employee morale.

So you screwed up. Admit it!

Posted by Janet Smith on February 16, 2009

President Obama said three words recently that almost made me cry with joy. In my opinion, these three words (or other words that have the same meaning) can significantly elevate a leader’s esteem in the eyes of his or her followers.  When employees hear their boss say these words, they typically become more loyal and want to work harder. But although every boss has plenty of opportunity to say these three words, few rarely do.

The words?  I screwed up.

I’ve frequently said, and will continue to say, that a class called Humility 101 should be a required course in every MBA program. There are just way too many bosses and people in leadership positions who mistakenly believe that they will lose respect if they acknowledge that they made a mistake. They believe it will make them look weak.

But on the contrary, leaders actually demonstrate and convey great strength when they humbly acknowledge of an error, apologize, admit that they don’t know an answer, or own up to making a lousy decision.  Assuming a leader is competent and isn’t apologizing for something every other day, these actions are all indicators of real, true human beings who accept the fact that none of us are perfect, we all bungle things from time to time, and everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

Leaders who can admit their own shortcomings inspire people to work harder and to be more creative, because they aren’t terrified of making a mistake.

I was wrong. I’m sorry. I screwed up. Important words that leaders and every single one of us should use when called for.

Like this post? Subscribe to The Goodwill Blog via RSS or email.

Comments are closed.