“Oops, I Did it Again….”


There is a saying that you learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes!  I believe that to be true!  We are all human, and we all make mistakes!  The key is to learn from them and not make the same mistake twice; however, as a leader, what happens if YOU make a mistake?  How does it resonate with your team to see the leader fail?  

Sarah Blakely, Self-Made Billionaire and Founder/CEO of SPANX once stood up in front of her entire company and recounted all the mistakes she had made over the history of the company.  As she recounted a series of failures, after each one she would play the Britney Spears song, “Oops I Did it Again.”  I can only imagine how that played to her audience of employees as she poked fun at her mistakes and showed her vulnerability!  Her goal was to communicate that failure is okay because it means you’re trying, and to teach her team to celebrate the failures.  Blakely recalled how her father would ask her each week what she had failed at – not what she had accomplished.  When she would tell him, he would give her a high-five and say, “Congratulations!”   Wow, what a life-lesson at an early age!


Below are five steps to take as a leader when you make a mistake:

  1. Own the Mistake – Do NOT blame or complain!  Be transparent and apologize.  
  2. Manage Your Reaction – Control your emotions
  3. Determine Why Mistake Was Made 
  4. Ask for Feedback 
  5. Clearly Communicate a Solution to Fix the Problem

When leaders don’t take responsibility for their errors and failures, it can have a negative impact on employee morale.  When a leader can be vulnerable and acknowledge their errors and failures, it can build more trust with their team.   

So, the next time you have an “oops” moment as a leader, follow these steps and celebrate your error!  As Sarah Blakely says, “If you can learn from it and laugh about it, it was all worth it.”


Interested in learning more about how to be an effective leader and grow your business?  Connect with us to learn more about our Beacons of Leadership program – limited spots available for next session! Contact Jeanette@GreenlightLeaders.com


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