Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting Smarter – Part 2

In my last blog entry, I wrote about how we punish politicians for imperfections. Once a politician makes a public comment, they are held to it forever. If there is something that they don’t know or understand and they make the mistake of commenting on it, they are forever branded by those comments. For some reason, we expect our politicians to be once and forever perfect. Or, said a different way, we don’t ever expect or allow our politicians to admit a mistake and learn from it.

“I reserve the right to be smarter today than I was yesterday.” Abraham Lincoln

In business, everyone makes mistakes. In fact, many astute business leaders will tell you that if you are not making mistakes then you aren’t really trying. Not making mistakes means that you are sticking with the tried and true. Not making mistakes means that you aren’t trying anything new or risky.

I’ve written numerous times that one should not be afraid to make mistakes because mistakes are how we learn. Making mistakes is not only natural and human, but it’s a part of our very makeup. If you have children, you remember when they first started to learn to walk. They didn’t know how and they weren’t very strong, so they fell down a lot. But you didn’t scold them for falling down. Instead, you encouraged them to get up and try again. You didn’t expect perfection immediately and neither did they.

There’s nothing quite like the determination of a toddler trying to learn to walk.

But at some point in your child’s development the standards were raised. You began to expect bigger and better things and in some cases became less tolerant of errors and mistakes. As a result, your children may have stopped stretching themselves and started doing things that they were already comfortable with.

Take this into the business world and you see that the same logic applies. When someone first enters the workforce they make a lot of mistakes. But that’s ok, they’re still learning. As they move up the management or leadership ladder, those around them become less and less tolerant of errors. Part of the reason is that the stakes are higher. With higher stakes, there is less room for error. Hence, leaders become less inclined to take risks.

But, there is another side to this quandary as well. We have high expectations of our business leaders and managers and are unwilling to let them make mistakes. So what happens when they do make mistakes?

It’s simple. They refuse to admit them. They cover them up. They hide them and hope you won’t notice. They deceive themselves and those around them, rather than admit that they are human and have human failings.

And in doing so, they fail the very people and organizations that they have pledged to serve.

But…..I’ll write more about that next week.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

1 comment:

  1. This is so true. The deception that results from a mistake not only hurts management's abilities to lead by destroying trust, but it also ruins the organizations ability to grow and improve from the mistake.