Navigating Repeated Mistakes | A Fresh Approach for Senior Leaders

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Navigating Repeated Mistakes | A Fresh Approach for Senior Leaders

There’s a persistent frustration that many of us in leadership roles have encountered—the exasperation of repeatedly explaining a task only to witness the same errors occurring again and again. It’s a drain on energy and morale, leaving both you and your team members disheartened in the cycle of continuous correction.

As Einstein famously stated, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Are you caught in this loop of repetition? Is there a way to break free from this leadership challenge?

The Frustrating Challenge

Dealing with team members who consistently make the same mistakes poses a genuine dilemma, especially when these individuals are competent in other aspects of their roles. The question arises: How can you effectively address this challenge without undermining their potential?

The Path to Resolution

Initiating a conversation is a logical first step, but let’s consider a different perspective.

Consider this: How do you react when someone tells you what to do?

Chances are, you’re not too fond of being told what to do. It triggers memories of school or being given out to by the teacher. This reality underpins why the conventional “telling” approach rarely achieves consistent outcomes.

The Art of Enquiry

So, what’s the alternative? It’s simple yet powerful—ask instead of telling.

Involve the person in the process of understanding and rectifying the issue. 

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn” (Benjamin Franklin)

This approach conserves your energy and transfers the responsibility to them—after all, it’s their role, task, and professional development. 

Fostering a conversation through enquiry opens the door to mutual understanding and collaborative problem-solving.

The Transformative Conversation

Picture this scenario:

You: What happened here?

(Do they recognize the mistake?)

You: What factors led to this happening?

(Choose “what” over “why” to prevent defensiveness and encourage open dialogue.)

As they respond, delve deeper with questions like:

  • What led you to that conclusion?
  • What was your thought process?

Guiding them to explore their thought process unveils insights that might otherwise remain hidden.

You: How can you prevent this in the future?

(Empower them to devise solutions—people tend to act upon their own ideas.)

You: What kind of support would help you towards a better outcome next time?

(Whether it’s training, your guidance, or encouragement, allow them to voice their needs.)

During this exchange, your silence is your greatest asset. While the urge to interject or advise might be strong, it’s counterproductive. Allow them to think through the answers, express their thoughts and ultimately arrive at their own conclusions. 

Empowerment in Action

The remarkable outcome of this approach is that the person witnesses your willingness to adapt—a vital leadership trait. Additionally, you’re showcasing a valuable skill: coaching.

By practicing this method, you strengthen your coaching abilities and cultivate a culture of collaboration and growth within your team.

So, why wait? Begin incorporating this fresh approach into your daily interactions with your team and witness the positive transformation unfold.


P.S. Curious to know more about how Executive Coaching and help you deal with challenges at work? Book a free consultation now. 

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