Some argue that admitting your mistakes can send a message of weakness or incompetence but a leader who can say “I was wrong” can increase his or her credibility five-fold. People know that no one is infallible. Often the followers see the leader’s mistake as it unfolds, so for someone to deny, cover up, or blame another person only exacerbates the problem.
Obviously, leaders need to work hard, hone their skills, and minimize their mistakes, but when the mistakes occur, they should own them. Jim Collins in Good to Great says that “Level 5 Leaders” look out the window to give credit and look in the mirror to place blame.
Showing your vulnerability and demonstrating a willingness to learn, helps you see mistakes in others as learning opportunities rather occasions for punishment. And, accepting responsibility for our actions and apologizing when necessary can go a long way toward creating an atmosphere of trust and empowerment.