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When People Make Mistakes, Leaders Need to Be Kind!

When people make mistakes at work, it's especially important to lead with kindness. Nice may be easier for you, as a leader, but it doesn't help people learn and grow.

Why do people make mistakes at work? For many reasons…but mostly because they are people! And as we know from the age old saying “to err is human”. 

As a leader, since you know people are going to make mistakes, you need to be prepared to deal with them, help people learn and grow from them, and prevent them from happening again. 

It’s not easy to do that. As a leader, you may want to avoid dealing with the mistakes people make. You may not like “confrontation” and you may worry that if you point mistakes out to people that they may become disengaged. And that you may gain a reputation for not being “nice”. 

However, not pointing out mistakes and helping people both fix them and not make them again isn’t kind. It’s not kind to them (or respectful since all people can learn and grow), kind to your customers (who may get defects because of those mistakes) and it’s not kind to your organization, because others - and you! - will inevitably be frustrated with the person! 

When a mistake occurs, as a leader, you need to act with kindness. That means pointing out the mistake and its consequences to customers and the team to the person who made it. Then you can help determine what in the process caused the mistake. Then you can help determine what needs to be done immediately to fix the mistake and what needs to be done differently in the process in the future to prevent the mistake from happening again.

When people make a mistake at work (and in life), they feel bad. So the help you give as their leader needs to be kind and focus on the process. Not on demeaning the person and who they are. This may be hard for you to do, but please remember, that’s your job as a leader. To be “hard on the process, and kind to the people”, so they can learn and grow. 

Being nice may be easier for you in the short term, but won’t help people learn and grow and prevent mistakes in the long term! 

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