How Long Do You Wait Before You Admit Something Isn’t Working Out?
It’s amazing what connotations the phrases “Flip Flop” or “Flip Flopper” have nowadays. Depending on what side of the issue one stands of which the “perpetrating” Flip Flopper is being accused of Flip Flopping, various opinions can be offered regarding the “perp.”
For instance, perceptions can emerge that the person didn’t have enough conviction to stick to their initial stance, that the person can be too easily swayed, or that he or she is doing so solely to appease others.
Mostly, this label of being a Flip Flopper is publicly and frequently assigned to politicians as they make their way through their careers, whether on their campaign trails or as the incumbents in their respective offices. These politicians can be labeled as a Flip Flopper for committing to one stance in the past and then subsequently adjusting their views and positions for whatever reason.
“Such instances in society in which we want to impulsively label someone as a Flip Flopper in the negative connotation should be assessed more closely on a case-by-case basis.”
Now, are some “perps” doing it in order to gain credit of some kind, possibly in the eyes of the majority of stakeholders (and voters)? Of course.
But are there those who are doing it in good faith because they feel that the information they’ve been presented since their initial assessment, whether through their own mission of fact-finding or through presentations made to them by opponents (or proponents) of the issue, make the case that the position they’d originally taken was the unjustified—or unjust—one? Absolutely.
Such instances in society in which we want to impulsively label someone as a Flip Flopper in the negative connotation should be assessed more closely on a case-by-case basis.
We should first determine or try to understand what the true motive is in the shift of opinion. Meaning: Which person has more of our respect? The one who sticks to their guns no matter what, including those flying in the face of information that tells him or her that they’re on the wrong course, or the one that can admit they’ve changed their mind upon better review of the facts and information?
“…we can make good on our repositioning by conveying the facts of what we found, how it changed our mind, and what we can do to proceed accordingly and correctly.”
Negative connotations can rarely be stopped; society is large on criticizing and never short on “I got you!” moments, so it can be hard to change the reaction of those around us, but it’s incumbent upon all of us to admit when we’ve changed our minds when we’re in that situation. Sure, we might lose face with some for changing our opinions, but we can make good on our repositioning by conveying the facts of what we found, how it changed our mind, and what we can do to proceed accordingly and correctly.
The same can be said for the workplace. Too many leaders and managers keep working and driving in the wrong direction out of fear that their stock will take a hit if they change course. Here, humility should persuade the leader, allowing the realization to be made that everyone makes mistakes and it takes much more courage to admit a change of position than to steer blindly into a mess that will lead to a worse result and/or repercussion for all involved.
So, either our individual ego can take a little hit up front, or we can all collectively suffer worse consequences later.
“Too many leaders and managers keep working and driving in the wrong direction out of fear that their stock will take a hit if they change course.”
No one can or needs to be right 100% of the time. When a leader can admit that they don’t have the answers or that one of their previous assumptions or assertions was wrong, it demonstrates to their followers that they can work as hard as they can on that leader’s missions and ideas, knowing that the leader will always be reassessing and recalculating the course, steering them away from either a dead end or a drop off a cliff. The followers gain assurance in course and confidence in mission while the leader gains greater respect, trust, and support.
It’s OK to change your mind. Just demonstrate why and what you learned.
So…What About You?
- Have you ever followed someone who refused to change course in the face of information that advised a change in course? How did that work out?
- Did you ever work for someone who would self-correct and assure others that it was ok to self-correct their own position? Do you do this yourself in your leadership capacity?
- What tips do you have for this type of self-assessment or -correction in your job, industry, or career?