There is a leadership lesson that has always stuck with me that can be drawn from the cheating in baseball. If you are familiar with baseball and I asked you to rattle off a list of players that likely cheated, some common names might come to mind: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, or Alex Rodriguez.
Someone that might not immediately make your list is the well-known and well-regarded New York Yankees pitcher, Andy Pettitte. He was a major league baseball pitcher for 18 seasons, primarily playing for the Yankees. In 2002, he was caught using HGH to recover from an elbow injury and admitted to it right away. After his admission, everyone moved on. His HGH use still comes up on occasion, especially since he is eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame, but it has not defined his career. He was injured and was looking for a shortcut so he could get better and return to his team. Unfortunately, he shared a misguided athletic trainer with Roger Clemens and that is where things fell apart.
Let’s face it, we’re all human and we all have errors in judgement that we wish we could go back and correct. When you take a group of people that all make mistakes from time to time and put them on a team, you have a group of people that make mistakes, creating for exponential opportunities for error. When that happens, the best thing you can do as a team member is identify it, call it out, and own it as soon as possible.
A wise person I know once said blame is like a pie that we can all take a slice of. Everyone on the team owns a piece, even if it’s only a sliver. I have been part of many conversations, both as an employee and a manager, where the solution would have been dissolved and resolved much faster and with far fewer consequences had someone stepped forward so everyone could work collaboratively to address the problem. So, the next time you run into a situation where you may be at fault, remember the best thing you can do is own it.
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