It’s a human tendency to not let other people see what makes us vulnerable. Whether it’s a mistake, weakness, or insecurity. Today host John Laurito talks about the importance of sharing your mistakes in an organization. He also shares how leaders can encourage their employees to do it.
[0:22] The most essential topic for running an organization
[3:35] How can leaders build a culture of vulnerability and share mistakes?
[5:01] Set the expectation
[7:25] Repeat and follow-up
John (Intro): Over the last two decades, I’ve been on an insatiable quest to learn everything I can about leadership. What makes the best leaders so good? After running companies small and large over the last 20 years, today I speak on stages all across the world to audiences who are interested in that same question. My name is John Laurito. I’m your host, and I invite you to join me on this journey as we explore this very topic and what makes the best leader so good? Welcome to Tomorrow’s Leader.
John: All right. Welcome to today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader, where we dive deep on all things leader-related, related to leading yourself and leading others. I’m John Laurito, your host. Good to see you again. So I want to talk today about a topic that I think is very, very essential for running a great organization. And it came up in an example, came up in a situation that I was dealing with a client where we were talking about a situation where one person in the organization had made a mistake, a very innocent mistake, nothing crazy. This is a financial services organization. One of their compliance people had, I’m not going to call it a mistake because it wasn’t really a mistake, it was just something this person did not know.
John: So the compliance person regulating financial advisors reached out to an advisor thinking that the advisor did not do something that he needed to do. Well, turns out that he didn’t need to do what the compliance person was saying that they needed to do. So the compliance person was incorrect. Nothing wrong with that. Totally fine, it happens. That’s perfectly acceptable. So we were talking about this as a leadership team about the assumption or hope expectation that this compliance person, who is one member of a large team, a very large team, the hope and really then became the question of did that person share what she had found out with the other members of their team for the simple reason that they don’t all then make the same mistake. So you can think about this one person making that mistake is one thing you’ve got to rely on. Hopefully, that person remembers and realizes, okay, I shouldn’t be making this mistake again moving forward and won’t.
John: But if that person is one of 20 or 30 or 50 or 100, does that mean the other 20, 30, 50, or 100 people need to also make that same mistake for them to learn it and then avoid repeating it? Or is there an easier way so that that one person makes a mistake, and shares it with everybody so that nobody else makes a mistake? I mean, it’s an easy answer. Every organization wants the same answer. They want that one person to share that mistake that they made with everybody. So they avoid making the same thing. Right. It’s easy. There’s no rocket science here. But here’s the problem.
John: What are the chances that that person did that? Like probably next to zero. And it’s not the fault of the person. It’s just a natural human tendency. We typically are not very excited to share with anyone, let alone a big group of people, let alone people that we’re working with, let alone my boss, let alone people that, you know now affect my compensation and my promotion and all this kind of stuff. I don’t really want to share that I screwed something up or that I didn’t know something. Hey, you know what? I didn’t realize
in this situation, you don’t need this or you do need that. I don’t want to make myself seem vulnerable. Right? I don’t want to point out my own weaknesses. Again, human tendency. We just don’t want to do that. So there’s the dilemma.
John: As a leader, how do I change that? How do I build an environment, a culture where the people in my organization are not only willing and not only understand that they need to, but they’re willing and they’re eager to share the things that they didn’t know. Hey, everybody else, let me share something that I just learned. I don’t know if you know this or not. Now, again, the human tendency is we’re afraid to say that because we think that we’re going to look dumb, I’m afraid to say, hey, you know what? I didn’t know what this acronym stood for, so I just found out it stands for this. We use it a lot. I never knew what it stood for. My guess is you’re going to get other people to be like, you know what? I never even thought to ask that same thing. I don’t even want to ask. Thank you. Do you know how many companies use a zillion different acronyms? It’s so crazy. It’s so funny. And it’s sometimes, you know when you’re part of an organization for a while, you use all these acronyms and it’s like a second language and you come into a new organization, you hear all these acronyms and you’re like, What it’s literally like a foreign language. It’s crazy. So but that’s an aside.
John: So but bottom line is, what do you need to do as a leader to encourage that? Okay. You have you ultimately as a leader, it comes right down to the leader of the company, right? That leader of the organization. One is you need to say it. You need to set that expectation. Hey, everybody, I got to tell you, I appreciate it. This is what I would say as a leader. I appreciate it when you make a mistake and you share it with other people, why do I appreciate that? I know you’re all going to make mistakes. I know you all do make mistakes if you make a mistake and keep it to yourself. I don’t appreciate that. I got to tell you, that doesn’t help me. And I don’t feel good about that. That doesn’t help the organization. It doesn’t help anybody else.
John: But when you make a mistake and you share it with other people, number one, I know that’s a little bit uncomfortable, but I want you to feel really comfortable and actually almost excited to do it because you’re making my day because you’re going to help everybody else avoid the same mistakes.
John: So I’m going to ask you to be brave. Obviously, I’m going to ask you to put the ego aside. I’m going to ask you to forget what other people are going to think or anything like that because I promise you, you are all going to make mistakes and you’re going to feel like you’re the only one making them. I guarantee you’re not. You’re going to you’re you’re going to learn something that you didn’t know and you’re going to wonder, should I tell other people this? And your natural instinct there’s going to be now because I don’t want to seem dumb because everybody else knows that I’m the only one that doesn’t that’s not the case.
John: And I want you and I encourage you and I ask you and I beg of you to share that with the rest of the organization because that is exactly how we become a better organization. That’s how we become a world-class organization. But it will not happen unless you do that. So again, I will not look favorably on it. If you make a mistake and you keep it to yourself, I will look very favorably on you when you make a mistake and you share it with other people. Okay, I will reward that. I will recognize that. That to me is somebody who’s growing and
thinks about the organization bigger than themselves. And that’s the type of person I promote, keyword. That’s the type of person I want to lead different parts of the organization.
John: So if you care about your future, understand, want a bigger role in this organization, and want to influence more in this organization, that’s a part of it. That’s how you do that. It’s not just about putting a spotlight on your successes. It’s about putting the spotlight on your failures, too, because that’s how we grow. Okay, that’s what I would do as a leader. That’s what I would say. You say that now. It does not just say it and leave it and forget it. It says it and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated and repeated. People need to hear the same thing seven times before they understand it truly. Seven times the average person needs to hear the same thing before it truly sinks in. They need to hear the vision of your organization seven times before they understand it and hear and can memorize it. Right. That’s key.
John: So repeat it. Follow up on it. Make sure people truly, truly understand how important that is for you. I guarantee if you do that, that will change your organization. I won’t change it overnight, but long term it will change your organization. It will transform it. You will have all kinds of positive things happen in your culture. You’ll have people that feel it’s a more safe environment. That’s a real keyword, a safe environment. It’s an environment that’s okay to make mistakes. And when you have that, you have people that are actually willing to step outside their comfort zone, they’re willing to take chances. They’re willing to throw out ideas.
John: Here’s one thing. How many times do you have people throwing out new ideas crazy off-the-wall ideas? If you don’t, you don’t have a very safe environment. It’s not because your people aren’t smart enough or creative enough. It’s that it doesn’t go from here out their mouth. And that’s because of you as the leader, right? You’re not making it a safe enough environment. You should be getting ideas in and from people from all, all, all sources, all types of people. Right. That’s a sign of a really safe environment. And it starts with what’s coming out of your mouth and what actions, how are you rewarding, and recognizing the people that do exactly what you want.
John: Okay, so I hope this helps. I love this topic because it’s we go on and on. There are a lot of different kinds of components to it, but it starts with making a really safe environment for people to broadcast their mistakes, the things that they didn’t know share with the rest of your team. It will make your organization stronger, a better foundation, and you will grow faster. And you keep people. You’ll keep them. You want to keep the great people, right? You will keep the great people. Trust me.
John: All right. And hope this helps. I hope this is good fuel for thought for you. Let me know what you think. Let me know your ideas on future guests and content and like, share, subscribe and of course, go down below. Give a five-star review and we’ll see you next time. Thanks.
John (Closing): Thanks for joining us on today’s episode of Tomorrow’s Leader. For suggestions, or inquiries, about having me at your next event, or personal coaching, reach me at email@example.com Once again, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks! Lead on!