Don’t Do This When People Make Mistakes

We all screw up sometime.  Maybe a careless moment or a poor evaluation of the circumstance.  There are consequences when mistakes are made.  I have been “blessed” many times with being clean-up crew when there is a big mess that needs to be cleaned up.

The fact is mistakes are how we learn.  I have really come to realize this as I have gotten older and gained more experience. There are so many times I get that “deja vu” feeling because I am in a similar circumstance I’ve been before and I remember the proper way to navigate out of it.  Experience is huge and you can’t always make up for it.

I have watched mistakes happen and I have watched how various leaders handle the problem.  There is one thing that I have learned that never seems to work in fixing a mess.  This is using blame.

When you are in the midst of fixing a bad situation the worst thing you can do is to immediately go to blame.  There is a time and a place to analyze and discuss the failures that led to the problem, but going to blame will only magnify the issue.

You will likely isolate the person who messed up.

They will feel that it was all their fault.

They will feel attacked.

They will not be in an effective position to help you fight your way out of the mess.

When one of your reports messes up its for a reason, in the vast majority of cases, the person responsible for the screw up is the person you see in the mirror.  They were not trained properly.  They were overwhelmed and you should have provided help. They weren’t ready for the assignment.  They didn’t have the proper resources.  It’s not them- it’s you!

So why are we quick to blame?  It’s our own ego and pride response.  We blame to protect ourselves.  Protect our perfect standing.  It couldn’t be me?  I did everything right!

After the dust settles and emotions die down, then you can take a look at the mistakes that were made.  The only way for learning is to confront the mistakes that were made and make changes so they don’t happen again.  This is the learning experience.  This is life.  The best lessons are learned out of pain.  It’s not fun- but it’s true.  When you have a mess, concentrate on clean up.  Jump in and help make it right.  Then, after things are fixed, take a good look at what happened and fix the problem.  Time to heal allows for objectivity and reflection.

Stay away from blame.  When you feel like you need to play the blame card- STOP AND THINK- about your role in the problem and understand what you are really doing when you blame.  A great leader will accept responsibility.  They understand that they are not perfect.  They are emotionally mature enough to know that they can make mistakes sometimes and they accept the failures of their reports.

Jump in and fix the problem.  Keep your mouth shut.  Talk about what happened later.

So what do you think?  Have you worked with a “blamer” before?  Do you see the connection between blame and pride?  Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!

You Can’t Look Back!

Kathy and I were having breakfast with a man after Street Corner Saturday morning who was recovering from a brutal beating which almost cost him his life.  He was in a coma for several weeks and the doctors were not optimistic about his recovery.  While he was in the coma, the Lord spoke to him and reassured him that He still had work on the earth for him to complete.  He told us that he remembers being separated from his body and looking down on the doctors and his family similar the common near-death experience.  He eventually recovered and has had a dramatic life change as he is convinced he has been given a second chance at life.



This man had a history of drug and alcohol abuse and was associated with some bad people.  As he continued with his story he began to express self-doubt and a feeling of not fitting in with the other men around him.  He continued to share about his past failures and insecurities and I stopped him mid-sentence and told him-

Stop!  You can’t look back! 

We all have junk in our past.  We have all made mistakes.  You simply cannot dwell on the past.

I told him that he was a new person that has been transformed and forever changed.  The old self is gone.  The voice telling you that you about your past, your previous failures, that your not good enough …is NOT the voice of the Father.  This is the voice of the enemy.  You cannot listen to this.

The enemy uses self-doubt, shame, and guilt to take away our power.  When we turn inside of ourselves we have destroyed our ability to influence others in a positive way.  We cease in our ability to make a difference in the world.

He shook his head yes and thanked me for the reminder.  He viewed many of the other men around him as hypocrites for just “talking and not walking” in their faith.  I reminded him that he can influence them by doing the right thing and walking in the light.  The rest is up to God.  He needn’t carry that burden.

Looking back can bring you down but it can also be an encouragement.  Look how far you have come!  You are not where you used to be.  And you are moving forward.  You are making a difference.  Push that negative voice out of your head.  It is not doing you any good!

Realize that you are here for a purpose much bigger than yourself.  To change lives.  To build up.  To restore and create.  This is the voice from heaven.  Listen for it!

So what do you think?  Don’t be a stealth reader!  Click on “leave a comment” and let me know what you think!  If you like this post press the share button and post it on your Twitter feed or Facebook page!  Yep…I can use some encouragement too! 

Chicken Leader

I used to work for a boss who believed that the best way to find an employee’s capacity was to continue to pile on the work until they said “uncle”.  I thought that it was pretty cruel and also not very smart as the overloaded employee was likely to make some mistakes that would need to be cleaned up later.  And most likely, I would end up fixing the mess!


Yet this kind of management theory is not uncommon.  The manager tells everyone that there is an “open door policy”, so if there is too much work then all you need to do is say so.  if you have any problems- just see me.  They are convinced that they are very approachable.  They have fooled themselves into thinking that they are just “one of the team”.

The fact is- these kind of leaders are just hiding.  The open door policy, and approachability is just an excuse.  They are afraid to ask because they don’t want to hear the answer.  Then they would have to deal with it.  They hide behind the intimidation.  They are chicken leaders!

Most employees will not walk through that “open door”.  Walking through that door is inherently dangerous.  They have no idea how things will be received. They may be viewed as weak employee or a complainer.  The walk through that “open door” can lead to an argument.  The bad thing that could happen far outweighs the good that could result.  The walk through the door could be a disaster.  The open door, you can always come see me, I’m just like you, I want to hear your problems, want to help you, won’t get angry with you…simply does not work.

So how do you get feedback and suggestions?  How can you find out how your employees are doing?  Well- you have to ask. But before you ask, you have to be trusted.  So how do you build that trust?  Here are a few ways to help get there.

Lower Your guard. If you want your employees to share and go to a risky place, then you need to go there too. If you want to be a leader you have to model the behavior that you want to see- right? If you have a guarded and formal posture, you can expect that your team will have that same hard shell.  Be authentic.  Share your struggles.  Be yourself.

Develop A Real Relationship. Work to develop a relationship with your teammates. Share what is going on in your life in order to encourage them to open up. Let’s face it- work is a very large portion of our life.  We spend a great deal of time doing life at work.  Don’t compartmentalize your time at work.  Develop real relationships with content that extends beyond your work.

Serve Others.  There is no better way to build trust than to be a servant leader.  When you put the needs of others first, you are sending the message that you place real value in them.  They have worth.  Without a servant leader mindset, you are placing the value on the hierarchy.  You are emphasizing the distance between them and you.

Be Observant.  Keep you eyes open and watch what is going on in your workgroup.  If you see someone that is struggling or is upset, address the issue.  Waiting for the problem to fully mature will only allow things to fester. The result will be a bigger mess.

Get Dirty.  If you want to relate to your group you have to get in the trenches with them.  You have to get involved and learn the struggle first hand.  If you stay in your ivory tower you will not fully understand what they are going through.  You also have to be prepared to hear personal struggles outside of work.  Family issues, sickness, conflicts, marital problems.  If you have a real relationship you can expect that you will also have to carry with them some of the weight of the personal struggles.  You would for a friend.  Why are they not your friends?

The open door policy doesn’t work.  If you want real feedback and suggestions for improvement, you must build the relational bridge.  Many leaders are afraid to build the bridge.  The bridge will make you appear vulnerable.  The bridge will reveal your fears and struggles. Hiding behind your title and distancing yourself from your group is the strategy of the chicken leader.  Are you ready to unlock the potential in your group?  Do you want more but can’t seem to get there?  Build the bridge, lower your guard and unlock the potential!

So what do you think?  Have you worked for a chicken leader?  Do you think you can effectively lead a workgroup without the relationship?  Click on leave and comment and tell me what you think!