The Price of Great Leadership
I was traveling back from New York on a business trip. My traveling partner for the trip was my boss. As a way to empower and develop me, she informed me before we left that she would leave all travel details to me. Decisions on how and when to travel, driving, directions, hotel, and expenses for the trip would all be my responsibility. As we landed on the ground at the Atlanta airport, we were ready for the final leg of our trip – the car ride back to home. I breathed a sigh of relief internally. Nothing had gone wrong the entire trip. Our bags didn’t get lost, we didn’t get lost, and I was mentally congratulating myself on a job well done.
“The price of greatness is responsibility.” Winston Churchill
It was late September and hot. I was working up a sweat while wrestling our several suitcases into the trunk of my tiny car.
Two suitcases, two carryon bags, one laptop, and two purses, we had been well prepared for any emergency on the trip and experienced none. Wishing for more trunk space, I finally fit all the pieces inside and gratefully slammed the trunk. I was looking forward to turning on the air condition on the 90- minute drive home.
As I walked around to the side of the car, I realized I had a major problem. I didn’t have any car keys. Thoughtlessly, I had set my purse and keys inside the trunk while loading the suitcases. I frantically tried to open the car door, hoping I had unlocked it before setting my keys down.
Mortified, I had to admit to my boss that I had locked my keys inside. There was a pause while she looked at me. Then, we both broke out into uncontrollable laughter. Thankfully, I still had my phone. I took full responsibility, told her I would handle it, and within an hour, the locksmith was able to get us on our way again.
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” Abraham Lincoln
Anytime we are faced with having to admit a mistake, we should face it immediately, accept the responsibility (in my case I also accepted the $60 charge from the locksmith), and then act to correct it. The sooner we do this, the quicker we can move forward.
Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” Leaders know they must take responsibility for making mistakes and act quickly to correct them when possible. Very successful leaders know they can also choose to see every encounter as an opportunity to improve.