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Admit error to gain respect

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

In 2009, Major League Baseball pitcher R.A. Dickey joined the Minnesota Twins. In the middle of the season, he appeared in a game after extended time off recovering from an injury.

The team’s manager, Ron Gardenhire, called on Dickey to enter a tense game in the 11th inning to pitch with the bases loaded.

Gardenhire instructed Dickey not to throw his best pitch—the knuckleball—because he feared the catcher might misplay it. Privately, Dickey stewed in anger because his manager was forbidding him from using his best weapon.

As a new player with the Twins, Dickey sucked it up and complied with his manager’s directive. He used his fastball and slider (two of his less effective pitches) and, predictably, the opposing team capitalized and won the game.

Afterwards, Gardenhire walked up to Dickey at his locker and said, “I’m sorry I put you in that position. It wasn’t fair to you, and I should’ve known better.”

Gardenhire’s apology impressed Dickey.

“It’s a glimpse into why he’s such a good manager of people and why his players like to play for him so much,” Dickey says. “Gardy may have messed up tactically in this case, but did something infinitely harder when he came over to take full responsibility for it.”

Gardenhire’s willingness to admit error shows that fallibility and leadership go hand-in-hand. When you’re willing to acknowledge your mistakes, you earn others’ lasting respect and they’re more driven to help you and the team succeed.

— Adapted from Wherever I Wind Up, R.A. Dickey, Penguin.

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