Today, let’s discuss a vital aspect of leadership that is often overlooked – the power of owning your mistakes and taking responsibility for your team’s errors.

As leaders, it’s easy to let our egos get in the way of good judgment. However, true leaders understand that accountability is non-negotiable. It means accepting responsibility for personal and team actions, regardless of success or failure. This mindset is not only crucial for personal growth but also for fostering team spirit, promoting respect, and propelling career advancement.

Mistakes are a natural part of being human and serve as catalysts for growth. When we acknowledge our missteps, we show that we’re not above errors – we are learners constantly evolving. This authenticity makes us more relatable and approachable to our teams, fostering trust and openness where employees feel comfortable sharing challenges, ideas, and even their own mistakes.

Taking responsibility for your team’s mistakes elevates your leadership. By doing so, you support and protect your team, creating a collective sense of responsibility and teamwork for both successes and failures.

Team discussing ideas and working on things together to come up with business opportunities.

Now, let’s explore how owning mistakes contributes to leadership development, increased respect, and career advancement:

Leadership Development: Effective leaders are not created overnight. They are developed over time by consistently demonstrating attributes like integrity, humility, and resilience. Owning your mistakes showcases your ability to reflect, learn, and grow from errors, fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Increased Respect: Leaders who take responsibility for mistakes earn respect from their team members. It demonstrates honesty, courage, and fairness – qualities highly valued in any industry or culture. It also shows your confidence in your team and your commitment to supporting them during challenging times. Building strong, loyal teams based on mutual respect and shared values becomes possible.

Career Advancement: Advancing in your career is not just about personal accomplishments but also about inspiring and bringing out the best in others. Accepting your and your team’s mistakes showcases emotional intelligence and strong interpersonal skills – qualities sought after in higher leadership roles. It positions you as a leader who leads by example, someone deserving of greater responsibilities and larger teams.

businessman talking to an employee about a development project.

Avoiding these common mistakes can improve your team’s productivity and create a more positive work environment:

Clear Communication: Don’t let miscommunication hinder your team’s progress. Take ownership by addressing the issue publicly and providing clear expectations and context. Foster open dialogue to prevent future misunderstandings.

Valuing Employee Feedback: Neglecting your team’s input can be detrimental to morale. Own up to any oversight and prioritize addressing employee concerns. Promote open communication through anonymous feedback channels or regular check-ins.

Empowering Your Team: Micromanagement stifles creativity and initiative. Admit if you’ve been guilty of this behavior, apologize, and express your trust in your team’s abilities. Foster an environment that allows for independent decision-making and growth.

An Example

A while back, I encountered a situation with a team in constant dysfunction, primarily due to the manager’s lack of accountability. The manager was well-meaning but struggled with collaboration and failed to seek or value his team’s input. His stress permeated throughout the team, causing frustration, resentment, and a lack of motivation to perform well. The team was in turmoil, and missed deadlines and overblown budgets marred their output.

Recognizing the critical nature of the situation, I was brought in to provide coaching and guidance. We began with a facilitated SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis exercise that allowed the manager and his team to honestly discuss their current situation. This exercise served as a reality check for the manager as he heard firsthand about his team’s frustrations and concerns.

It also became evident that the team’s significant weakness was a lack of timely and on-budget project completion. This was a direct consequence of the dysfunctional team dynamics and lack of collaborative decision-making. Recognizing this was an important turning point. The team collectively decided to prioritize this issue and work on a strategy to address it.

I coached the manager on the importance of shared decision-making, emphasizing that leveraging the collective intelligence of his team could lead to more efficient problem-solving and execution. I encouraged him to establish regular check-ins, create an environment conducive to open communication, and to actively seek and appreciate the team’s input.

Within a month, the transformation was remarkable. The manager had begun to invite and value his team’s insights and ideas, which in turn fostered a sense of ownership and commitment among the team members. They began to feel that they were an integral part of the solution, which motivated them to meet project deadlines and stay within budget. The entire team’s commitment and engagement took a 180-degree turn for the better, culminating in significantly improving their project performance and overall team morale.

This experience serves as a testament to the power of effective leadership and collaboration. When leaders learn to share accountability and appreciate their teams’ input, they can turn even the most troubled teams into high-performing ones.

Group of unsuccessful business people and badly managed company

Investing in Professional Development: Don’t neglect your team’s growth. Accept the mistake and commit to supporting their professional development. Offer training programs, mentorship, and clear career advancement opportunities.

Encouraging Work-Life Balance: Avoid burnout by promoting a healthy work-life balance. Apologize if you’ve pushed your team too hard and emphasize the importance of well-being. Implement policies like flexible hours and mental health days.

Acknowledging your mistakes, apologizing sincerely, and taking prompt action can increase your credibility as a leader and create a more collaborative work environment.


In conclusion, a leadership role is more than just a title. It’s a commitment to guide, support, and inspire your team to reach their highest potential. A critical part of this role is setting a positive example by owning your mistakes and taking responsibility for your team’s errors.

Remember, your actions set the tone for your team. By embracing your flaws and turning them into lessons, you create an environment where everyone feels valued, trusted, and motivated to excel. This not only enhances your leadership skills but also paves the way for faster career progression.

I hope you found this piece insightful and that it inspires you to embrace the power of owning your mistakes. At Results Driven Leadership, we believe that every mistake is an opportunity to learn, grow, and become better versions of ourselves. As a leader, when you instill this belief in your team culture, you empower and develop a resilient workforce, one mistake at a time.

Let’s continue to learn, grow, and lead with authenticity.