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Everyone makes mistakes. But when you’re in a leadership role, the stakes are higher. Your missteps resonate across teams, and in some cases, entire organizations. Acknowledging mistakes is crucial to recovering from them—if you do it right.

Once the shock subsides in the wake of a screw up, instincts kick in. You might want to pretend it never happened and hope no one notices, or blame someone, or make up a fancy explanation. But these reactions never work after a big fail.

These four steps can help you bounce back from mistakes to rebuild confidence, both among your colleagues and in yourself.

  1. Say it – A mistake happened. Don’t leave your people in the dark. Apologize and explain your reasoning, however misguided it was. Doing so will help stop chatter at the watercooler and reduce anxiety.
  2. Own itAcknowledge the decision was wrong and hold yourself accountable. When Apple faced serious glitches with its Apple Maps in 2012, CEO Tim Cook took responsibility. “We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers,” he announced, “and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.”
  3. Fix it – Staunch the bleeding. It’s not going to get better if you wait to see what happens. But at the same time, don’t be rash, either. Barreling ahead just to act may lead you from one bad decision to another.
  4. Learn from it and move on – Figure out how the mistake happened. Was it an aberration or the result of a larger, systematic issue? Keep track of what you learn. Explain to your team that you’re moving forward with what you’ve discovered. Again, be transparent. Moving on from the mistake, informed by its origins, will create positive momentum. Paralysis kills innovation. And it can hamper you as an effective leader.


Today, “failure” is touted as a necessary step toward progress. Handling it with openness, humility, and energy can turn bad decisions into opportunities. Leaders can serve as models for their employees who may find themselves in the same position. Keep talking through the process with your teams. This is a teachable moment.

Take what you’ve learned and channel it into doing better. With risk comes reward, so advance undaunted. Onward!

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Preview: Gartner Market Guide for Adaptive Project Management & Reporting

Pick a PPM solution with the best capabilities to match your unique needs

In the Gartner Market Guide for Adaptive Project Management & Reporting guide, Gartner, Inc. provides recommendations and evaluation criteria for executives and PMO leaders assessing Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions. This guide outlines the adaptive project management and reporting process flow as well as a market review of current providers in the following categories:

  • - Existing pure-play PPM providers
  • - Collaborative work management (CWM) providers
  • - Enterprise agile planning (EAP) providers
  • - Technology Platform providers from other markets

The guide provides insight into how well a product or service fulfills certain functional capabilities – with a forward-looking market direction and analysis provided.

In the report, Gartner, Inc. mentions/states that “by 2024, 50% of all program and portfolio management (PPM) leaders will integrate complementary technologies to enable portfolio decision making and adaptive work management for digital business evolution.”

Clarizen offers a complete solution that connects work across the enterprise, turning ideas into strategies, plans, and action. With Clarizen, organizations can work the way they want to work and have real time visibility across all workstreams in their portfolio. This keeps teams focused on the things that matter, provides the real-time information needed to make more accurate and timely decisions, and delivers results faster to meet and even exceed company goals and customers’ expectations.

Discover what sets Clarizen apart from other vendors in the marketplace.
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Buyer’s guide to project management software