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The Courage To Admit You Are Wrong

by David Brock on October 2nd, 2009

I’m continuing my barnstorming tour of Ireland and meeting with Irish Technology Executives.  Yesterday I was hosted by the very gracious people at the NSC Campus in Cork.  I had the privilege of sharing the podium with another inspiring CEO–Pat Phelan of MaxRoam.

Pat’s presentation of the MaxRoam story was fascinating.  I was really struck by Pat’s description of having to completely change the direction of MaxRoam early in their formation.  At formation, the team had a strategy of establishing the MaxRoam brands and products around the world.  He and his team pursued those strategies aggressively and he continued to reassure is investors they were on the right path.  A little more than a year into the execution of the strategy, Pat recognized things weren’t working.  While their products and services were solid, their go to market strategies just weren’t producing the results they should have.  The entire approach to the market would have to be refocused and relaunched. New funding was needed to support this.  Pat described meeting with his investors and saying “I was wrong……”  Needless to say, the refocused strategy is producing tremendous results with great growth in market presence and revenues.  The future is extremely bright.

It takes tremendous courage to admit you are wrong.  Telling your people, your investors, your customers and your community that you have made a mistake is one of the most difficult things for any leader to do.  Failing to recognize you have made a mistake is one thing—too many companies fail because they haven’t recognized this.  The more challenging thing, though, is when you have recognized you have made a mistake, admitting that you are wrong.  The mark of real leadership is having the courage to admit the mistake, putting it behind you, and moving on by taking the action to correct it.

It is always inspirational to meet an executive who has been through this experience and to learn from them.  Pat is really an outstanding leader!

By the way, MaxRoam’s offerings are very interesting.  Make sure you take a look at it!

  1. Insightful and very correct, Dave. A true leader knows when to admit he or she is wrong and immediately does the necessary steps to clear the mistake before it does any more damage. Putting it off for some time can bring disastrous consequences that can lead the company (and the staff) to jeopardy.

  2. Ranbir Malik permalink

    A leader is ever expected to lead, be it for good or not so good results. True leader is one who leads even in admiting that h/she made a mistake immediately on realisation rather than procrastinating.

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