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Using a term I love because it sounds like the title of a gripping new HBO series, Winch encourages people to become “failure detectives”: “Follow the clues, and figure out where the mistake was; look at more than one mistake, and see if there are connections. We all have our blind spots, so once you clue in to what that blind spot is, you can really take steps to avoid it.”

That’s a fantastic approach. It blends introspection and responsibility and turns the whole mix into a whodunit! (Except in this case, the “who” in whodunit is always you.)

O’Malley says she was raised by parents who encouraged her to admit mistakes. That has carried over to her company, and the result—aside from feeling good about herself—is respect from both clients and employees.

One of her former employees wrote an unsolicited review of O’Malley on LinkedIn, praising her character and ethics.

“You can’t buy that,” she says. “It made me feel really good.”

It made her look good too. Just as admitting a flubbed statement can make a politician look good—or at least human.

So it’s important that bosses and managers set the tone by being willing to say, “Oops. My bad.” And then everyone, from the top down, needs to be introspective enough to examine why mistakes are made.

It will earn you goodwill and show a fearlessness that’s hard to find. Plus you’ll be able to tell people you’re a failure detective.

They may not know what that means, but it sounds pretty cool.

Rex Huppke writes for the Chicago Tribune.

©2014 Chicago Tribune
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