In a recent podcast interview, a guest called Eddie shared a story about how he approached his manager because he made a huge mistake at a national level. The manager looked at him and said, “This is a major mistake, but we all make mistakes. So, let’s focus on fixing it.” There will be time for debriefs and lessons learned exercises later, but rather than playing the blame game, leaders with heart give a person grace in the moment.
The exchange with his manager formed the way Eddie would lead his own teams many years later. When faced with similar mistakes made by his employees, Eddie immediately reflects on his own experience. He begins exploring how to resolve the problem and understand how they can challenge themselves to overcome what they did wrong and talk about the other things later.
This powerful story highlights the need for leaders to give themselves grace, and at the same time, show others grace too. In our conversation, Eddie also mentioned that when you hear the word grace, many will automatically think of religion, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The reality is that we need to be comfortable using this word in the workplace because we need to do it regularly to keep relationships strong.
Many happily give grace to others but admit to struggling when giving grace to themselves. The problem is that when it comes to us, we want to be perceived as being perfect. Having that self-awareness will not only improve your personal development but those around you too. When a team observes a leader daring to give oneself grace, they will allow themselves to do the same.
Giving and receiving grace in response to workplace harm can be critical in overcoming conflict and misunderstanding. If you don’t have grace and you aren’t able to exhibit it to those around you, you will run the risk of allowing stress and anxiety to take over. When in solution mode, we all naturally want to keep pushing forward. For these reasons alone, we should never forget the importance of taking a moment to have both compassion and grace for ourselves.
Grace can empower employees and give them the confidence to move forward after making mistakes. It can also help build an environment that promotes rather than fears risk-taking. However, you can have too much of a good thing and you must get the balance right. When we give ourselves too much grace, it’s easy to maintain the wrong kind of behavior. But self-awareness will guide you and keep you on the right path.
Sometimes you will go off-track, take a detour, and even be forced to backtrack. Rather than beat yourself up or blame others, remember to give a little grace for yourself and to give it back to your colleagues. You will quickly find yourself back on track and together with your teams, you will figure out how to overcome almost any obstacle.
In every element of our life, mistakes are inevitable, but failing to learn from them isn’t. Caring leaders can give and receive grace when an error is inevitably committed in the workplace. They not only fix the issues caused by mistakes, but they also ensure that they will not be repeated.