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Focus Past Your Mistakes. (#99)

The Confident Leader

“Dad, why was Suzy one of the best business partner you ever had?” 

“Well, son, she was a consummate professional. When one of us would make a mistake, she never dwelled on it or pointed fingers. She quickly turned her attention to finding a solution.” As a leader, learn how to focus past mistakes and spend more time on the correction. 

Spend a sentence on the mistake and a paragraph on the correction.
— Dr. Julie Bell, PhD (author and coach)

This Week’s Edition

Leaders have a tendency to dwell on their mistakes. Turning their attention to the correction as soon possible ensures a good use of precious leadership mental cycles.

Clarify Your Thinking

Many leaders I work with fall into the trap of dwelling on their own mistakes and those of their team members.  Consequently, leaders experience negative impacts such as increased anxiety, living in a constant state of dread, an impaired ability to focus and decreased motivation

Why is this? Well, leaders hold themselves to a level of perfection no one could sustain or live up to.  

As a result, leaders hold their teams to impossible standards, sometimes without even knowing it.  This creates challenges.  First, no one is perfect.  Second, when a mistake is made the leader may end up dwelling on it, hoping that is the best way to ensure it won’t happen again.  Too much talking not enough listening!

However, needling the issue often leads to the leader hovering over their team who ends up feeling untrusted and micromanaged:

  • 79% of people say they have been micromanaged

  • 85% say it decreases their morale

  • 69% considered changing jobs as a result

Old Thinking: This was a huge mistake. What’s wrong with them?  I hate having to address these issues repeatedly. 

New Thinking: Mistakes happen. I’m going to address it and quickly turn my attention to the correction and any training needed to support that.

Thoughts Lead to Actions

The book I co-authored with Dr. Julie Bell, PhD is called Performance Intelligence at Work. We tackle this issue head on in our chapter on focus:

Recognize the mistake. Focus on the correction.

In fact, Julie’s take was, “Spend a sentence on the mistake and a paragraph on the correction.”  Wise words.

In a leadership world where time is a precious commodity, we find leaders spending too many mental cycles dwelling on the mistake.  Sometimes they never even get to the correction only to find themselves dealing with the same mistake again.  

Follow this simple process to focus past the mistake, reclaim precious thinking time and harness it for the correction:

Step 1: Identify the mistake.

Step 2: Discuss the corrections available.

Step 3: Identify the lessons and put it behind you. 

It seems too simple, right? Many leaders have grown accustomed to spending a lot of time reinforcing the mistake and its impact to the organization. They mistakenly think this teaches their team how to do it correctly next time.  Unfortunately, this line of thinking, and failing to give any talk time to the corrective action, ends up being the mistake on top of the mistake.

Boost Your Performance

In this week’s video, discover how focusing on the correction changes the dynamic of the leadership conversation and provides a great opportunity to coach your team to the next level of performance. 

What’s Your Opinion?

How do you stay focused on the correction and resist the urge to dwell on the mistake? Share with me at:

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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