I wrote a bit about this last week with my “Free to Fail” blog… but something powerful happens when a leader is willing to admit their mistakes and identify they’re wrong. In this whole lead differently series I’ve been writing on a new vision for leaders who don’t want to lead the way the world leads… Leaders who want to stand afar from the status quo of power, authority and control. Before I dive into this topic I need to be 100% transparent and admit that I don’t do this enough. I’m constantly working on this and I know full to well that this isn’t natural for most leaders. Here’s the idea, great leaders who want to lead differently need to be wrong more.
There’s a myth that leaders must always be right. It’s evidence by the common phrase “you can’t lead someone to a place you’ve never been.” This statement implies that a leader is always right because they have the knowledge, skills and experience to lead.
It’s toxic belief to think that either your leader is always right or you as the leader is always right. It stems out of pride and is the antithesis of a great leader. Those who understand true leadership understand that in order to lead differently we have to lead out of our mistakes, our mess ups and are willing to admit they’re wrong.
In the post last week about the olympics, I talked about leaders creating an environment where it’s okay to fail at something… because being okay with failure allows the opportunity to win. Being okay with failure only works when the leader of an organization, group or department is willing to admit when they’re wrong. We have to lead by example.
There’s a few reasons I know that being wrong more makes great leaders, here are a few:
1. No one likes KIA’s.
As much as we think that the best leaders are “experts,” there’s no denying that we hate being led by someone who knows everything. “Know-It-All’s” (or KIA’s, no relationship to the car by the way, haha) have a tough time attracting high capacity imitators. KIA’s have teams that aren’t very innovative and have a tough time accomplishing multiple tasks at a time, because they’re always relying on the leaders experience (or lack thereof).
2. Lead (or fail) by example.
If you are the top point person (or key decision maker), your organization will become more like you… there’s no question about it. It’s a by product of being the leader. If you want to foster an environment where failure is okay and risk is something to be celebrated (to a point), you have to be the first to show the mistake and tell your team that it’s okay to be wrong. Trust me, your team won’t care that you’re wrong, they’ll be inspired about the fact that you were comfortable enough with being wrong, and you will have painted a picture of how to admit that you’re wrong.
3. Paul said it.
There’s something powerful (and humbling) about being wrong. The Apostle Paul speaks about it in 2 Corinthians, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” When a leader admits wrong it shows that even they are under another authority. It’s shows our human side, but is also the mark of a follower of Jesus Christ.
4. Being Wrong Builds Trust.
Lastly, when a leader is willing to admit his or her “wrongness” or failures, it builds a layer of trust in any relationship. At the core of being wrong more, means leading out of a place of honestly and authenticity. This has allowed me to build a deeper relationship of trust with my team. Trust isn’t just something that helps me lead better, but it’s built lasting relationships and we can go deeper faster in meetings, brainstorming sessions or in the middle of a performance review.
Here’s the thing I know to be true in this post. By this point you either believe everything I have said because you are likely a leader who is okay with begin wrong… or you absolutely disagree with everything I’ve said because you believe you being right all the time is an entitlement of your leadership.
For the first group, I applaud you. You’re the ideal example of being a leader who strives to build world class teams. Continue to lead differently.
To the second group, I can only encourage you on one small thing… It’s up to you to take action on this little phrase, but nonetheless will be the trick that causes you to be a more effective leader and one who attracts superstars, dreamers and other all-star leaders.
BE WRONG MORE!
It’s up to you. Maybe sharing this post with your team is the first baby step, I don’t know. I’m confident that as you join me in this struggle to be wrong more, you’ll find yourself attracting better team members, becoming more efficient as an organization and growing powerful leaders in your organization.
I’ve written on Leading Differently a few times and if you enjoyed this post I would highly encourage you to check out the entire series. It’s being written out of a new vision I have for leaders to consider, a new initiative for leaders to not just look to the world when they lead, but to consider their actions and build world class environments by leading from behind instead of leading from a position of control.