Leaders are everyday people and, as such, make some boneheaded moves. Bad decisions, actions that lack integrity, unforced errors with team-wide consequences. They inadvertently share confidential information. They make promises that can’t be kept. The list of brainless missteps are shared by all leaders on occasion.
Once the apology has been offered but before forgiveness has been granted, the time is ripe to reflect on what the misstep really means in the larger picture of leadership. In these moments of serious error and mistake lies the ability for leaders to embrace a view of humility that all leaders should honor—that we are all a work in progress. None of us is a finished product. The best leaders are always “under construction.”
Acknowledging to others that we are incomplete but are working hard to close the gaps displays a leader worthy of followership. This is about more than admitting to the moronic move. When leaders openly confess they are vastly imperfect and have much work to do on themselves, followers forgive and then celebrate the journey that they, too, are on.
Humility can take many different forms. By revealing that they are a work in progress, which they fully and humbly accept, leaders strike a deep and resonant chord with those they lead. We like to follow leaders who are both confident and humble. Missteps give leaders the opportunity to remind the team they eat humble pie as frequently as everyone else. Maybe that’s why the best leaders find humility in a moment where others only see a mistake.