By now, you’ve probably heard the news of Tom Brady’s suspension for <a
The story is pretty simple: a report given to the NFL indicates that Patriots QB Tom Brady was probably involved in having the game balls under inflated. This action is against NFL rules since doing so could potentially present an unfair advantage during a game.
Considering other suspensions given by the NFL in recent years, this does seem a bit excessive. Yet as one ESPN radio host said this week, the suspension could likely have been avoided altogether. How?
Tom Brady has been dodgy and uncooperative during this entire process. Instead of admitting his mistakes and taking ownership of the issue, he has chosen to let his agent attack the media and the critics. I am not the NFL commissioner, but I bet that Brady’s cooperation would have helped in a reduced sentence.
This situation is one that leaders may find themselves at some point during the leadership journey. Maybe a leader makes a genuine mistake, or maybe, as in Brady’s case, the leader intentionally does something wrong. In either case, being uncooperative and playing the blame game are not healthy ways to address the situation. Here are three components of a healthy response that leaders should consider:
1. Own the mistake. Instead of placing blame elsewhere, own the issue. Don’t let others be penalized for your actions. The blame game is human nature, so this step is incredibly difficult. But this first step is crucial in moving forward in the process.
2. Admit what you did. Don’t make a generic “I’m sorry” statement. Instead, apologize for the specific actions you took. Let people know that you are aware that your actions were wrong. This seems counterintuitive, because leaders often think this step signifies weakness to their followers. In reality, this step demonstrates humility and humanity, and those two things are highly valued by followers, particularly millennials.
3. Change your future actions. Whether it was a one time mistake or a recurring problem, develop a plan to avoid this same path. Some mistakes are simply that: a mistakes. Other times, however, a mistake is part of a recurring problem. In either case, rely on trusted friends to help you identify and avoid blind spots. Better yet, look to hire an executive coach to assist you in developing a better action plan.
What else can leaders learn from Deflategate?