The best COOs learn from themselves first. Even so, a lot of people in executive positions (CEO, COO, or other second in command) still do not take the time to learn from their mistakes and failures. Of course, this isn’t true about everyone, but it’s very apparent that it’s still difficult for a lot of high-powered people to look inward and learn after a mistake or failure.
Maybe it’s a matter of pride or maybe they just don’t realize it at all. Mistakes happen to everyone, no matter their job title. It’s just part of business and life in general. The best COOs learn how to notice those mistakes and take the necessary action to ensure that they do not happen again.
Before You Blame Someone Else
Before you blame the market, before you blame the economy, before you blame your coworkers, and before you give all the reasons why someone or something else was at fault, look inward and find your fault in it. One of the most useful traits in top COOs is their ability to blame themselves first.
“Blaming is especially counter-productive when it comes to situations that need to be resolved. By blaming other people for a major issue that you’re responsible for, you put yourself in a very vulnerable position. You will end up with the wrong person taking a careless approach to fix an issue that they do not feel responsible for.” – Medium
The best COOs learn through introspection of their contribution to the problem.
COOs Learn from Introspection
The next time you lose a customer, or a project doesn’t get done on time, or you frustrated a team member, or if you’ve even missed a goal, look inwards. Don’t even look to blame someone else until you’ve dug into your own contribution to the problem and figured out how you could do better. To do this, ask yourself:
- What could you have done differently?
- What did you do to contribute to the problem?
- What steps can you take to ensure this does not happen again?
- What did you learn from this failure?
Imagine how much stronger you’d be in business if you regularly examined your successes and failures. You are your best teacher.
You Don’t Need Books to Learn
Lots of COOs learn by reading books and blogs, by listening to podcasts and talks by other top business leaders. It’s great to learn from that kind of content, but perhaps it’s not all you need. Perhaps you don’t need to read as many business books or listen to as many podcasts as you think.
Most COOs do not realize that they can learn more from themselves than anyone else. It’s all about owning up to failure and learning from it. No one is perfect, but every single person can strive to be better than the last time they did something.
Getting to know how COOs learn and how they improve is important. You can’t learn everything from other COOs, though. Although your job title may be the same, each individual job you do will offer new challenges and opportunities for failure. This doesn’t mean you have to learn everything by yourself, though.
One of the best ways to learn about yourself is to have a network of peers. Interacting with others and seeing how they handle themselves can help shape who you are as a COO and help you make better decisions in the future. Introspection is vital for COOs to learn.
If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send an email, and my team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2017 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.