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Humble Pie

"I'm here on television saying I screwed up." Barak Obama

When news broke that Tom Daschle had failed to pay nearly $140,000 in back taxes, President Obama initially stood by his choice for Health and Human Services secretary. But Daschle was the President's second Cabinet nominee to be identified as a tax dodger, and political pundits everywhere began criticizing the appointment. After Daschle withdrew his name from consideration, the President admitted to reporters that he "screwed up" by defending Daschle when his tax problems were first discovered.

There's a lesson here for leaders who, like the President, are new to their current roles. Workshop participants often ask me for tips on earning the respect of a new staff. As it turns out, exhibiting humility is a good first step. Too many new managers believe that it's better to appear right than to be right. So rather than acknowledge their mistakes, they arrogantly discount them. But as the President demonstrated, the willingness to acknowledge an error can turn a leadership misstep into a credibility boost.

Leadership requires the courage to admit your blunders. By owning up to a mistake, you'll show workers that you're willing to risk your pride in order to do the right thing.

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