When I was younger my dad had 2 rules for life around our house: Rule 1 – Dad was never wrong. Rule 2 –Whenever dad was wrong, see Rule 1. This worked pretty well until I became a teenager, and like all teenagers I knew better….usually…I thought.
In business however, unlike my formative years, no one gets to be right all the time. We all work hard to make sure we are right as often as possible. It is the way you matriculate upward in management. Being right more often than not is a hallmark of the successful manager. There are times when despite your best efforts, you are not right. What you do now will tell many people a lot about your character as a leader.
If you are wrong, accept that things did not go as you had planned. It happens. Don’t equivocate – “We were 75% correct”. Don’t try and spin doctor the results – “We met our commitments, but didn’t reach the objectives…” Learn from it.
Identify what did go right,and also identify what did not. Specifically identify what needs to be done in the future to assure that when the same or similar issues arise in the future,the outcome will be different. The idea is to focus on the future and not waste cycles trying to explain, or bury the past. What is learned and assimilated into the business and how it is prepared to move forward is far more important than the protection of your ego over some perceived “failing”.
If at some point it turns out that you are wrong, despite however unlikely an occurrence this is believed to be, identify the issue, get it right and move on. In both the short and long term it will be better for you and the business for you to be the leader that corrected the issue and moved forward, and not the manager who tried to recast the past.
My dad still likes to remind me about Rule 1 though.