It was a total fail. The message was completely wrong and the timing was awful. Those who were in the room when the event occurred knew immediately that this went directly against the mission of the organization. The atmosphere was one that could damage the integrity that had driven the leadership team for years. I watched as this failure occurred in real time. Here's what happened:
The Leadership met immediately to discuss. They quickly assembled the right people in the meeting.
They did not blame or point fingers. They addressed the current situation by asking what needs to happen to correct this damage.
They discovered truth about the flawed process.
Each person took a role in correcting the course.
They owned it quickly.
They communicated the mistake with clarity to their group.
They committed that they were going to change the process so this did not happen again.
They demonstrated humility and not arrogance.
The group clapped. (You read correctly. The rest of the group clapped in show of their appreciation to the lead team for acknowledging and owning this mistake. )
The lead team and organization actually grew the trust of the group.
This was nothing short of tremendous leadership. This team came together with one thought in mind: "We have to correct this mistake.” I was talking about the incident with one of the leaders when he said, “It is my job to protect the culture of this organization. We have worked hard to develop trust and I will not let that be destroyed on my watch.” What an example of loyalty and clarity!
No one wants to have a relationship with someone who appears to be invincible. People desire to have relationships with those who are authentic and transparent. Likewise, no one wants to follow a perfect leader. They will follow those who are imperfect and know how to fail.
Failure is a part of life. This team allowed failure to actually improve the trust and loyalty of those they lead. Thanks to each of them for leading the way with strong integrity and wise vulnerability.
When we fail well, we will make a difference.