When was the last time you admitted you were wrong?
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO
I had set my morning schedule. I was in Philadelphia and I had left the hotel in plenty of time. My destination was entered into my smartphone which was sending instructions to my watch. What could go wrong? I could turn right onto the street that would take me to my destination – instead of left. And, of course, I accidentally did the latter.
I proceeded to walk about 10 minutes – in the wrong direction. I think I realized it much sooner, but I was certain I just needed to get reoriented. I even turned right again – not wanting to acknowledge that I could have just headed even further in the wrong direction. Finally, after assessing the situation, I turned around and headed in the right direction.
Have you ever done this – at work or at home? Have you, with the best of intentions, started out on your journey only to discover that you would need to admit you were wrong – and choose a new course. I certainly have – more often than I would like to admit. In today’s, fast-paced world, the sooner we can admit we are not heading in the right direction – the better. But, acknowledging we are wrong is not a trait that a lot of leadership courses and books discuss. As leaders, we expect ourselves to know the answers. We want those we lead to trust us. How will they do that if we are “getting it wrong”? Maybe it is time we redefine leadership to include the ability to be humble enough to admit that, despite our best intentions, we do get it wrong.
Recently, at work I needed to acknowledge to myself – and then others – that we needed to adjust our quarterly performance conversation tool. It was too heavily weighted to evaluate performance – and did not focus enough emphasis on professional and personal growth. Growth is the key to our success as an organization—and our members depend on it. It was time to be much more intentional about employee growth so MACNY growth would occur more readily. Again, I had seen the signs for it for some time. Finally, I needed to admit we needed to head in a new direction. Our team seems really excited about doing so –and so am I.
This last weekend, after finally admitting I had gone the wrong way, I turned around and arrived – a little late – to my destination. I was about 10 minutes late. Since I had built in some extra time at the beginning, I realized that I would have been on-time – even after heading the wrong direction – if I had only more quickly acknowledged that I was wrong sooner. My desire to be right had gotten in the way of doing the right thing sooner. Does this ever happen to you? As exemplified, it certainly does to me. This weekend I got another lesson in listening to my “inner voice” and admitting I was wrong. Good reminders for me – and all leaders – as we adjust to the constantly changing world we work and live in.