I was pleasantly surprised when I read the recent article about former Google CEO and current Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s public admission that he’d screwed up by underestimating the threat Facebook posed, not taking it seriously.
How many times do you hear a prominent executive admitting point blank that he or she has made a mistake, especially the leader of a powerful company like Google (which is seen by many as somewhat infallible and arrogant)? I found it extremely refreshing to hear such honesty, particularly given who it came from. Even more refreshing was the fact that he was taking personal accountability for this failure.
It takes a very confident leader to admit failure, a mistake or a shortfall. Some argue that the best leaders are in fact those who fail, but who learn from their mistakes and bounce back to achieve great success – that this is the test of a true leader.
If anything, I thought this admission gave a bit of a boost to Google’s sometimes arrogant identity – that one of its executives could admit having made a mistake.
I wonder how many other leaders would have the confidence to utter those same three words “I screwed up”?