As a college basketball referee, I have numbed to the inappropriate comments coming from fans during games. You have to a certain amount of confidence as a ref to be able to go home without crying. I have said to many basketball fans that the referees are always (they should be) the most unbiased people in the building. Often though, through my experience as a basketball official, I take many lessons that apply to leadership in schools.
Last night, I made a call against one of the teams that I was not happy with. The coach was very upset with me and started yelling across the floor, to which I motioned that I would come talk to him the second I had a chance. At the next timeout, I approached the coach, ready to hear his argument, seeing he was extremely upset with me. As I walked over, before he even said anything, I said to him, “Coach, it was a bad call and I apologize. I will do my best to get it right next time.” He looked at me, smiled, patted my back, and went back to his team.
I could have justified the call and argued against him, knowing that I have the ability to throw him out of the gym if he got out of line. But just because you have power, does not mean you need to use it.
If I was a betting man, I would put my money on that coach having more respect for me admitting my mistake, than coming up with some elaborate argument. The next time I do make a call that is questionable to him, but can defend it, he will likely have more trust in my explanation because he knows I can admit when I am wrong. To be honest, I gained a ton of respect for him as well as he did not rub my face in the mistake.
As educators and/or educational leaders, we have to be able to admit when we screw up as well. If we are truly risk-takers, we are going to run into situations where things do not work out the way we planned. Own up to it, admit your mistake, and make it right.
I heard a quote last night that really stuck with me:
“…whenever you hear a euphemism, it means someone is lying or a coward.” Fareed Zakaria
Be straight with people, and admit when you are wrong. It will gain respect, help you move on, and the time you save arguing, can be put into making it right.