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Encourage Mistakes
04/08/2009

Should we encourage mistakes on our team?

Are honest mistakes allowed on your team? Do people fear failing to the point that they become paralyzed at decision time? Are mistakes treated as opportunities for development?

John Maxwell, in his book Failing Forward, stated that honest mistakes should actually be encouraged, not just tolerated. Think of it this way...if people on your team are not making mistakes regularly, what are they doing? The unfortunate reality for most teams consists of people so afraid of failing that they opt to do nothing rather than taking a chance for success.

What exactly is an honest mistake? This question is often asked during my leadership training sessions. I answer the question with an example. If my son spills his milk at the dinner table, I really cannot get angry because I too will also eventually spill my milk. However, if my son is throwing his football at the dinner table and spills his milk, it is no longer an honest mistake. If we do something we know we shouldn't and a mistake results, we should focus on the undesired behavior rather than the end result. Make sense?

As leaders, we must learn to focus on the behavior first and the result second. This is very difficult in our myopic (pay-at-the-pump) culture of living for the now and not for the future. We live by a flawed corporate culture that mortgages the very future of the organizations we serve. This is driven by an insatiable need for short-term success like stock price and quarterly earning results.

My courses teach leaders at all levels to focus on key moments for development. The best leaders use honest mistakes as learning opportunities and create a culture of positive risk taking for the team. People are not afraid to fail as long as the attempt is honest and in the benefit of the organization.

Leadership Among Idiots "A Survival Guide for the Rest of Us"

by John R. Grubbs

Get the book first - available May 2009

Assembling a business team is not so difficult; building it into a strong and cohesive unit takes skill. How do you recognize the weak link? And once that problematic team member is identified, what next? When it comes to leadership fundamentals, to realizing that we all have the capacity to be leaders if only we develop those important skills, there's no better guide than Leadership Among Idiots, by one of our country's foremost experts on organizational leadership, John Grubbs. From communication skills to building team trust, from identifying that weak link (yes, the idiot!) to recognizing the importance of diversity, this book is a goldmine of information. Think you don't have what it takes to lead? Grubbs will prove otherwise in his candid and no-holds-barred approach to building solid relationships and, in turn, growing a successful and cohesive team.

Coming soon from GCI...

• More comprehensive on-line training - safety, human resources and petro-chemical training courses.
• Organizational design services - is your team organized with a purpose for success? How do you know?
• Buy the book "Leadership Among Idiots" from this website.

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