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It's On Me
I hate—and I mean HATE—being wrong. Perhaps you feel the same way.
But being a leader means stepping up. So, even if a problem is not your fault, it’s still your responsibility.
Be honest. Communicate when there is a problem. Don’t cover it up.
Don’t focus on placing blame. As the leader, you do need to know who did what, and on whether a problem came from an accidental mistake, and intentional action, or a random and unanticipated cause. But the focus should NOT be on “Who are we going to throw under the bus for this?”
Focus on the fix. How are we going to make things right? What’s the workaround? Try to get to the point where you can say to your team (or the client or your supervisor): “We’ll make it right, and here’s how we’ll do it.”
Focus on the issue, rather than making it personal. “This is wrong” and “You did this wrong” both convey that the thing is wrong, but one phrasing can make the person feel personally attacked.
Once the problem is resolved, look to prevention. Make sure that there is a fix, so that it does not happen again. This might include improved communication, more training, new quality-control measures, more supervision of or check-ins with specific staffers, or having someone check our own work or proofread our documents (Always get a second set of eyes on something on which you have been working for a while, especially if there have been multiple drafts. You know what it SHOULD say, but you might not see what it DOES say).
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