Leadership Tips On Recovering from Mistakes

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In my experience as a business owner and entrepreneur, I have come to learn that mistakes are a necessary part of the learning curve of business ownership.
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Learning to recover from your mistakes, whether they are mundane or colossal, is critical to the ongoing success of your business.

The first thing I tell anyone who has made a mistake is to choose to learn from the mistake and not quit because of it. That first step is critical. From there, I use a strategy I call the Three O’s when it comes to recovering from mistakes. The steps are:

  1. Own It
  2. Observe It
  3. Overcome It

First and foremost, own it.  If you screw up, and you will, be the first person to step up and own the mistake. As a leader, creating a culture where it is okay to fail is one of the best things you can do to foster a creative and innovative environment. And lead by example here, because you won’t get it all right all the time either.

Secondly, you must observe it.  Once the mistake is owned, I start investigating what caused the problem in the first place. Understanding what went wrong is a necessary component to learning from and not repeating mistakes. If you are the person who made the mistake, be an active part of investigating exactly where things went wrong, and then give a full report of everything you observe.

For example, I once hired a CPA on the recommendation of a friend, but did not properly vet their work. I implicitly trusted this CPA and gave them little to no oversight until the IRS came knocking at my door. I owned the mistake in hiring, but more importantly, I observed all the other missteps that ultimately led to a near financial disaster. I had not properly vetted the employee, and I allowed them to work without any oversight, which allowed the problem to build until it was a mess. Understanding the whole problem (and not just trying to point blame) leads to finding a solution for the future.

Lastly, you must overcome it. The best way to overcome a mistake is to learn from it and put systems in place not to repeat it. Sure failure is educational, and even necessary in many ways, but that doesn’t mean you want to repeat the same mistake over and over.  After my incident with the CPA, I put a very thorough vetting system in place when it came to hiring any employee. I also made sure that every employee had someone who was responsible for overseeing their work, which prevented any small mistakes from building and becoming insurmountable ones.

What are your best tips for recovering from mistakes? Let me know in the comments!

The Beef

When mistakes happen, you want to be the kind of leader that acts, but doesn’t overreact. You can lead your staff and your business well by being strategic in all areas, including recovering from a mistake.

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