This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
Regardless of how successful you are, you always make mistakes, and often they're errors in judgment. Missteps shape your character and are just as much a part of who you are as the successes. The important point is what you learn and how you recover from them.
These six faux pas helped shape me as a leader and moulded a set of values that I subsequently adhered to.
Being ill-prepared. In a previous article, I described how I responded to losing out on the race for president but still landed well. The mistake I made is that I didn't prepare well enough for the interview with the board. The area I screwed up was finance and I remember their body language as I answered their questions. Not good. I knew. I confronted future encounters differently.
Playing it tight. Holding stuff close to my chest. Not sharing. I was a marketing innovator; my organization continually came up with new programs but I didn't always share what we were doing with the executive team. I was criticized for the lack of communication by my peers through the 360 feedback process we used. I was blasted by them. They were right. And I listened. Things improved.
Talking without thinking. My boss made an executive appointment that I considered ridiculous and told him so. Brazen. Presumptuous. Risky. Stupid. I was surprised I wasn't fired on the spot. Take a deep breath before you say something you might regret. I apologized and muzzled my ego in future similar situations.
Rejecting weekend golf. Sounds crazy, right? But there are certain expectations that people have of an executive leader. A common one is that you will be available on the weekends to play some social golf with your peers and with customers. I wasn't prepared to take the time from my family. I never did. I made the choice. It was noticed. And I think it slowed me down.
Not lunching. If a meeting couldn't be held in my office then it probably wasn't all that important. People around me were shocked. What was I thinking? Every other executive lunched regularly. Was I leaving the company? It was seen as a lack of commitment by many.
Reduced networking. I didn't avail myself of all of the networking opportunities that were open to me. They could have consumed every non-office hour available. I viewed evening dinner events and hobnobbing affairs as a pain that robbed me of personal down time. I was extremely selective in the events I attended and had a robust network as a result. But it certainly could have been broader if I were an "event junkie" like others. Perhaps it was a career limiting factor but although my approach yielded a selective number of deep relationships, I may have benefited from a wider network of casual acquaintances.
Of course it is impossible to tell if any of these six choices limited my career, or whether it would have taken a different path. I spend little time thinking about what could have been, but perhaps if I had …
Roy Osing (@RoyOsing) is a former executive vice-president of Telus with over 33 years of leadership experience. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead, dedicated to helping organizations and individuals stand out from the competitive herd.