Have you ever been in a situation where you had a meeting coming up and you knew that you didn’t complete the tasks that you were asked to do? What was your response to that situation?
I dealt with that today. I had started working on a survey way back in June that I was going to finish up and send out to a group of folks by early August at the latest and compile the results in early September. It was mostly done. I had worked hard on it. Then, all of a sudden, it was September! I knew I had not followed through on the task. I felt bad about it. I immediately started to try to come up with excuses. People were traveling; I was waiting for feedback from others and never got it. I had a few to choose from.
The conference call comes around where I had to share with the team that I had not completed the task. I was not looking forward to admitting my failure. The call started, and before I knew it, we were talking about the survey. Before I could say anything, the leader of the group took responsibility for not getting the survey out in time. Whoa! “Wait a minute?” I thought to myself. This was my bad, not his. But he took the blame anyways.
Wow. The first thought that ran through my head was “respect.” Respect for the leader. Why? Because he knew that, ultimately, he was responsible, even if it was my task. As our leader, he knew that he was partially to blame. He made no excuses. He just took ownership for the mistake. No one on the call had any issues with the mistake. We just moved on to figure out the next step.
I eventually fessed up for my part of the blame, but I learned an important lesson. If I made excuses, like I wanted to do, I would have made the situation worse. At the very least, the people on the team would see right through my excuses and lose respect for me. I would have lost trust. But, admit the mistake, be humble, and take ownership, people will not think less of you. In fact, they will think more of you. Why? Because we all fail. But it takes a true leader, a secure leader, to do what my team leader did today.
Thanks for the lesson.