Recent political manoeuverings reminded me of an incident in my long career managing a front line municipal department.
I had the privilege of a position where I knew and dealt with both those who actually did the work planned in the office and the elected representatives of the people who authorized the works.
Once, while answering questions on a presentation to Council, a question concerning the approach to some problem (sorry, I don’t remember the matter nor the person asking the question). I answered the question based on the approach espoused in the report. The questioner thought a bit and questioned the answer. His questioning was based on a reasonable consideration. I thought about the councillor’s idea approach, my proposed solution to the problem and it seemed that he (I remember that it was one of the men on Council) had a very valid point.
My response (there was probably a small delay in replying) was basically. “It seems that I’ve made a mistake and will amend our approach.”
The meeting continued to other topics and my active participation in that council meeting ended.
When I returned to the staff section of Council Chambers, there was a somewhat incredulous question. “Did I just hear you admit to a mistake”? The answer was yes, and I did.
That (save for the change of approach the department would be taking for that specific item) was the end of the matter.
The ramifications of making a mistake can be serious. The ramifications of admitting the mistake and (this part is also very important) taking appropriate action to make things right seems very acceptable to those who are in position to judge.
It’s OK to admit a mistake.