Leaders That Can Admit They Have Made a Mistake

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick admits he ‘must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up’


Do leaders make mistakes? When leaders make mistakes, who is responsible for pointing out their mistakes? In any business or structure environment, the leader is always looked to as the person with the answers to all questions and guidance during tough situations. Often they are expected to make the correct choices on big decisions that will affect business growth and employee’s lively hoods. One of the qualities of being a good leader is being able to determine when they have made the wrong decision and they take ownership and move forward to try and correct their mistake. Becoming an effective leader requires reflection on past mistakes, taking responsibility for past mistakes, and using those previous mistakes as a learning platform to make changes and avoid the same mistakes in the future.

Recently, I read a news post by Recode, which talked about the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, apologizing for comments and yelling at one of his drivers. The driver made a complaint to Travis Kalanick about how new work policies have negatively affected his income. From reading the article and watching the video, the CEO blames the driver current condition on him and feels that the driver needs to take responsibility for his actions. The CEO failed to understand and relate to the drivers concerns. Later after the driver posted the video of their encounter, the CEO admitted he was wrong and furthermore acknowledged that he needs help with being a better leader.

In this situation, what caused the leader to self-reflect and admit that he needs help on being a better leader? Does CEPO actually feel that he needs guidance on being a better leader? Is he admitting that he needs help because the altercation was posted online resulting in millions seeing and hearing about the incident, and consequently, the CEO is in fear of losing his business?

Being a leader is like anything else in life, you are going to make mistakes. As a leader you are expected to take calculated risks and the reality is at times, those risks will lead to failure. A leader that opens oneself to vulnerability shows his followers that he has the confidence to accept challenging oppositions and is not afraid of failure. A good leader not only understands his failures, but is also able to analyze the mistakes that were made and move forward. Making mistakes is part of the leadership experience and it helps to contribute to your growth as a leader, and as a person. Followership does not expect perfections from their leaders, however they do expect them to be honest and admit when they have made a mistake. Leaders that admit to their failures help to build a culture of trust among their followers.



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