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My Biggest Mistake–What’s the Chink in Your Armor? - by Nina O'Neil

July 21, 2017 8:34 AM | Deleted user

How often do you think CEOs gather over a meal to discuss the humbling experience of their biggest mistake? Or reveal that chink in their personal armor?

Not too often, right?

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It’s only human to look good in front of our peers and feel as though we have all the answers or only share our victories with each other.  The facade in business can be “everything is fantastic,” “we are killing it,” or  “sales are through the roof”. It’s the business equivalent of answering “I’m fine” when asked how we are.

Yet, the business leaders on the journey of Conscious Capitalism who gathered for our recent CEO breakfast have found value not only in sharing best practices, but also in being vulnerable to share those moments (or chinks) when they had failed and what they had learned from those experiences. Below’s a smattering of what they shared.

Chinks in Armor

One leader openly shared his company’s journey aligning itself with its core values and making people their top priority. Making this choice exposed a lot of practices and relationships that were not aligned with their foundational values, resulting in their choice to to walk away from their largest client.

While this move had a significant cost,and they felt like they were taking a step back,  it really allowed them to move forward, while staying true to their operating principles.

Another leader shared the challenging decision to keep or fire an employee who had an encyclopedic knowledge of their product technology, but who was also killing morale. Postponing and fretting over the decision had had a high cost in the culture, until the employee finally moved on.

Lesson learned?  Not only to make sure new hires are a fit with creating the culture, but also to make decisions sooner before the cost becomes too high.

Across the conversations, it was clear that being willing to be vulnerable and share mistakes can not only be liberating for the leader, but it also creates a culture in which employees are more self-expressed and less afraid to fail.

It’s important to share our stories.  And, our stories also include challenging moments.

Yet, what becomes possible when we authentically share those moments where we don’t do our best or we let our team down or we cost our company time or money?

 If we have the courage to allow them, those opportunities for learning can open up new pathways for ourselves as leaders as well as for our businesses.


So, let your people see the chink in your armor – what have you got to lose?

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