Some leaders think they should look forward and remain firm at all times, even in the wake of a mistake. J.P. Pawliw-Fry, M.D., the co-founder of the Institute for Health and Human Potential, said his work with the NBA champion Chicago Bulls reflected the importance of acknowledging errors and demonstrating accountability in professional relationships.
“The team of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman — any basketball historian will say they were not the most talented team of their era. They did not have a dominant big man. What they were able to do was to be an aggressive learning organization,” Pawliw-Fry said. “The game would end, the team would go into the dressing room, the door would close, the media would be on the outside. Who do you think the first person was to put up his hand and admit a mistake from the game? You might think it was Michael Jordan. He wasn’t bad, but it was Phil Jackson, the coach. He was not afraid to go in there and say, ‘You know what, I made a mistake in the second quarter where we had the wrong defense or the wrong offense.’
“What did it unlock for everyone else in that dressing room? It allowed them to feel safe, and they could trust their coach to admit if he made a mistake. That’s why they were one of the most aggressive learning organizations. And that’s why they were able to sustain their success to six NBA championships. How are you with your team? Are you having this kind of positive impact?”