Leadership Tip of the Week: Second Chances

It was a mistake — and a pretty bad one at that. The blunder was a momentary lapse of judgement by one of my best junior leaders.

Let’s just say that leader was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the whole situation could have and should have been avoided. The mistake he made was avoidable and we were now both answering for it. I was standing in front of my boss . . . answering for his actions. The leader deserved a second chance, and I was willing to fight for it. My boss reluctantly supported it but his guidance was an important lesson; I now owned the outcome.

My junior leader recovered from it and has gone on to have a great career. The experience has reinforced for me the thought that some leaders deserve a second chance, but it comes with risk.

This particular instance was a success story. But I have also given leaders a second chance and they squandered it. The lessons learned are that leaders own the outcome, and there is a right way to administer second chances.

Second chances are a team effort, and the leader who gives the second chance has to own what happens as a result.

I suggest following this process:

  • Acknowledge the shortcomings
  • Develop a plan of action
  • Identify leader responsibilities (these are the responsibilities of the leader granting the second chance)
  • Articulate what a successful outcome is
  • Establish a plan to follow up on progress

Second chances have been in the news a lot lately. They are risky business and require the direct attention of a leader because the that individual has to own the consequences. Follow these steps, and leaders are better suited to take the appropriate actions as required.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.