When you are wrong, run a correction

I spoke at a publisher’s conference in 2004 and had a chance to hob nob with several major newspaper editors. At a lunch, I asked several of them as to how the policy of front page corrections came about. What I found out was not only interesting, it was insightful.

Newspapers run corrections on the front page to accomplish two things: Address errors on their part and teach reporters to better check their facts. It’s a smart idea for legal reasons. It is a brilliant idea for leaders and professionals.

Too often we carelessly make assertions without checking our facts. When we are leaders this is especially damaging because we inflict our errors on others. Most of the time they know you are wrong and might occasionally even raise their hand to tell you. What do you do? Do you bull ahead to “protect your image?” Bad idea.

If you are willing to run a correction and set the record straight, you will find that others will greatly appreciate your honesty. As a leader you will gain, not lose, credibility because you are down-to-earth. We all make mistakes. Just admit it.

Recommended: Next time you realize you’ve made an incorrect assertion run a correction (email, next meeting, etc.) Don’t sugar coat it. Promise to do a better job of checking your facts next time.

My own learning: This Sunday’s post regarding the Black Crowes had several errors in it. If you read the comments to the post, you’ll find that I was incorrect in asserting that they only played new songs and it was their reunion tour. Even though I’m still disappointed with the show, I stand corrected. PS — I really appreciate comments that can set the record straight. This is why I believe that bloggers should allow comments, even if they have to moderate spam-ish ones. Thanks to Clouds for such a thoughtful comment.