I posted recently about the Chief Constable of NI retracting a plan to re-brand the PSNI, and how, once this news was made public and the court of public opinion made their thoughts very clear on same, that he understood there was little support for this plan and so called it a day.
As leaders, we’re not above being wrong. We are certainly not responsible for always getting it right and I have huge respect for leaders who call it as it is and say simply “I got it wrong” or “that was a bad idea”. It doesn’t show weakness, it shows accountability, responsibility and self-awareness.
Think of the great leaders and businesspeople in the world. So many have told the story of their rise and fall, and wear their failures as badges of honour. There is no better learning than from a mistake.
So many people allow their ego to get in the way of taking responsibility for their decisions. Sometimes we can become insular a in our thinking, so convinced that an idea is a winning one that we’re blindsided by the issues. This tunnel vision happened to me.
A number of years ago, I had an idea for an e-commerce offering and it just wouldn’t go away. I visualised it, I had a name for the business, I registered the domain names and worked up a business plan. I did my research, got the team involved, got backing from an investor for the idea, and even created and issued the tender for the website build.
Around the same time, I was working with very high-level coach in London. I discussed the idea, my enthusiasm was obvious, but she asked for more detail. I can clearly remember our next meeting at Soho House where she pulled no punches in telling me to go for it if I really wanted to, but…she thought the idea was a non-runner. The return on the energy, time and financial risk required was at best, OK, but more than likely, poor. She succinctly outlined how the same amount of profit could be earned in a much more enjoyable and simple manner within RNN.
She was right!
So, back on the plane I hopped, tail between my legs, disappointed but so thankful for her intervention. The next day, I gathered the team, was completely transparent in explaining that we’d no longer be pushing ahead with this side business, the rationale behind the decision and I took complete ownership for the lack of foresight for the idea.
I also phoned each of the web companies, explained the situation and sent them gifts for the time that they had spent on our proposal.
(Side note: although speculative proposals are part and parcel of new business, time wasters are a pet hate of mine. All we have is our time to sell, so when people waste our time, it’s wasted money. I certainly didn’t want any of the web companies to have even a remote idea of us as being ‘time wasters’ as this is something that we certainly are not. Our reputation is everything.)
Most importantly, I believe that my team admired me for owning my mistake and not just being foolhardy, or putting my ego before the business, and going for the new idea regardless of the advice. The experience also demonstrated how much I value people speaking up, challenging ideas and how everyone’s opinion is respected.
So there you have it! Hands up, I got it wrong, but I had the confidence to own my mistake. I may be brilliant at many things - ideas are my currency - but sometimes even the best ideas just don’t fly. This experience was a valuable lesson. A lesson in the ownership of ideas, admitting your failings, learning from it and surrounding yourself by people who challenge your thinking.
Business coaching in London isn’t cheap…but this lady saved me a fortune, and as has been proved many times before, you often get what you pay for it.
Over and out for Just a Journal by Riki #17 Is anyone reading this? If so, feel free to comment and ask Qs…all feedback welcome! Stay safe all. This too shall pass.