At some point, every leader commits a highly visible blunder. Your reputation, however, hinges on your next step.
If you decide to wait it out and keep a low profile, there’s no guarantee that time will work to your advantage. People may write you off for good.
Alternately, you might try to subtly shift attention to others’ misdeeds. This almost never works. If your peers and employees perceive you as the responsible party—the person who clearly screwed up—then trying to wiggle out of it only makes you look weaker.
It’s better to face your employees—and anyone else who may judge your embarrassing actions harshly—and take responsibility. Follow these guidelines:
√ Showcase your humility. Demonstrate lessons you’ve learned from others. Express gratitude to those who have leveled with you and advised you to take ownership of your mistakes.
Admitting that you feel lucky to get a second chance can endear you to colleagues. Putting your ego aside makes it easier for people to look past your misdeeds, especially if you were once known for riding roughshod over others.
√ Take center stage. Apologize for your actions and commit to new, better behaviors. Don’t delegate these steps to peers or friends.
√ Separate what you can and can’t control. When weak-willed executives or politicians make highly publicized errors, they tend to blame the media or other outside factors for the mess they’re in.
But such complaints rarely help.
Acknowledge your inappropriate actions or faulty decisions without trying to spread the blame.
— Adapted from “Five PR lessons from Weiner’s imploding campaign,” Bill Huey, O’Dwyer’s.