“We got it wrong.”
This line has been thrown around repeatedly over the last couple of weeks in light of the recent scandals involving NFL players. It seems as if there have been numerous news conferences with those in charge pontificating how they made a mistake and changed their stance on an issue. I am curious how the leadership of these organizations really feel. Were these admissions of wrongdoing all about re-thinking a situation or the result of getting torched in the court of public opinion?
What happens when we get it wrong within our own organizations? Keeping quiet and wishing it would go away is typically not the best way to negotiate the way out of a public relations nightmare. Taking a different stance on an issue because a very bad video goes viral doesn’t instill confidence that your organization is telling the truth. In the case of the NFL scandal involving Ray Rice, in my opinion it just looks like the NFL is saying, “Whoops, we didn’t mean for you to see that.” How many people actually believe that anyone within the NFL did not see this video prior to TMZ making this public knowledge? Or worse yet, after viewing the previously released video where Ray Rice is dragging his unconscious fiancée out of an elevator, no one questioned it or thought to dig deeper into this situation for additional information?
Ignorance is bliss – right? When a scandal erupts how many times have we heard from the leadership of an organization that they simply didn’t know what was going on? Unfortunately, this excuse is used far too often when dealing with bad behavior. We didn’t have the video, we didn’t see that document, no one told us…and the list of excuses go on. Ignorance can only get you so far before you appear as if you have no idea what is actually going on within your organization, or you simply look like a liar.
I’m not saying that changing your mind about something after further examination of a situation is the wrong thing to do – we all make mistakes. I applaud any organization that can be forthcoming and transparent in dealing with a difficult situation. At one time or another we all get it wrong, how you choose to lead moving forward is the true test of leadership integrity.