Wise men profit more from fools than fools from wise men; for the wise men shun the mistakes of fools, but fools do not imitate the successes of the wise.
Cato the Elder (234 BC – 149 BC),
I keep repeating to the staff that I will make mistakes – more than they will.
It is important, however, that when I do make mistakes that I put my hands in the air and admit to them! Having a ‘blame culture’ quickly drains the ethos of trust and unity. I have watched other leaders quickly pass the blame to others which then has always made me question what they had blamed on me.
It can also be very easy to blame people who are no longer there. Since becoming a head, I have made a concerted effort to praise the previous headteacher as often as I can. We all work differently….some systems that are in place are effective and easily manageable for some people, while others need completely different systems or methods of working. How can I place any ‘blame’ on someone who has kept the school consistently ‘good?’
I do not tolerate people saying anything negative about someone else when they are not there face to face. As the adage goes, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.’ And further, if you have an issue with someone, discuss it with them. I always have so much admiration for people when they come and talk to me face to face about things that are bothering them, or things that they feel I am not handling in the right way. From the start, I have made it clear that I want staff to be honest and upfront with me. If they don’t tell me when they are upset or have things they are finding difficult, I can’t do anything about them. When issues are brought to my attention, then I can make changes as appropriate! Things only get worse when we complain and moan to others and don’t actually confront the situation. Honesty can be difficult, especially when we think the other person will be upset, therefore, as leaders it is important that we are able to accept ‘constructive’ criticism and react in a positive manner. Honesty always ends up having a more favourable outcome.
I will be the head who stands up for my staff. I will work with them and support them through challenges, but I will not ‘blame’ them. I have always respected those people who I see take blame on their shoulders, move on from it, and then actually make a change to rectify it. That is who I strive to be. We all make mistakes….
Like my husband always reminds me, you are smart when you learn from your mistakes, but even wiser when you learn from others’ mistakes. I have learnt a great deal watching other leaders….from their successes and also from their mistakes.
Mirroring what I said yesterday, our greatest lessons can come from our failures……you are wise though, when you can learn from the mistakes of others…..