The Street Smart Law Blog

Writing 2
  • Frederick L Shelton

Leaders Don't Tolerate Mistakes: They Demand Them

"I don't tolerate mistakes - I DEMAND them!" This is something I tell my people all the time. I remember bosses who belittle me when I made a mistake.

The last boss who tried that with me, in front of other employees received the pleasant reply:

"Thank you for your feedback and may I just point out what a pleasure it is, to work for someone who has never made a mistake."

He didn't seem to appreciate my humor.

In any case, I don't tolerate mistakes, I demand them. I remember I met the Olympic figure skating coach at a party back in the 80's. We got to talking and she told me something I've never forgotten.

HER: Oh I can tell you who's NOT going to make the team in the first week. It's easy.

ME: Really? How can you tell?

HER: They never fall.

In other words, they're playing it safe. I don't want my people to play it safe. I want them to push themselves. And if I want the best they've got, then I have to embrace the fact that mistakes will be made. Which is why my people have zero fear of making mistakes. They know that I will celebrate their learning experiences when they do.

Don't be a boss, be a leader.

Frederick Shelton

CEO, Shelton & Steele