In the pursuit of success, leaders are often expected to be flawless and infallible. Yet, the fear of making mistakes can hinder their growth and inhibit the potential for innovation and progress.
Today we will delve into why leaders in particular fear making mistakes, explore the barriers to admitting errors, and offer strategies to foster a culture of openness and learning.
Why do leaders fear making mistakes?
Short client story: A client of mine, a leader who recently moved one level up in leadership, told me that he is not allowed to make mistakes. He was very adamant that this is the right way to do things. This was a limiting belief and a fixed mindset, and I could see the fears behind it. He was expecting the team to follow and be mistake-free just like him.
I asked him a very direct question “Who told you to not make mistakes?” It was he who was putting this expectation on himself.
The fear of making errors stems from the fear of damaging one’s reputation or worse, losing credibility. Leaders feel pressure to maintain an image of invincibility.
Admitting mistakes requires vulnerability, humility, and self-reflection. These qualities are not always associated with traditional notions of leadership.
Some people mistake vulnerability for weakness. Mistakes make leaders look human and give them a respite from perfection.
Several factors contribute to the reluctance of leaders to admit their mistakes:
6 opportunities that will make you more comfortable with making mistakes:
What about my client?
He dared to challenge his fixed mindset and started working on feeling more comfortable with making mistakes. It wasn’t easy. His internal saboteurs were trying to pull him back to old habits. But he had the motivation and permission to experiment and…make mistakes on the way.
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