As happens every year at this time, Monday night dinners at our house are eaten with Monday Night Football in the background. It’s a concession I make to my husband in return for all the times he attended art fairs and watched chick flicks without complaint.
Last Monday, watching the Las Vegas Raiders and the Baltimore Ravens, I noticed the format was completely different. Tom pointed out that we were watching the ESPN version where instead of a traditional announcer, the Manning brothers, Eli and Payton, were bantering back and forth about the game which was occasionally interspersed with added commentary from other football players.
One of interviews was with Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. When Payton asked him if he had spent his Monday recuperating from his past game or preparing for the next, Russell said, “Oh no. No relaxing today. Today was ‘Tell the Truth’ Monday in Seattle.”
A tradition instituted by the Seahawks coach, Pete Carroll, the purpose of “Tell the Truth Mondays” is to evaluate and answer the following questions so that the practice sessions in the week ahead will be on point.
What went well? What went badly? What should be the focus heading into next week?
The players come in to watch and analyze film on Monday mornings with their position coaches. Coach Carroll has taught his players how to evaluate their performance on the field—both good and bad—and be honest enough to “tell the truth” about them. There are no excuses on Mondays. There is no blame-shifting or avoidance. Monday is the day to reckon with mistakes, to take responsibility, and to let the errors shape the direction of the future.
Great leaders and managers know in order to pull this kind of honesty from their teams, they must first do several things:
- Leaders go first. They must model what it looks like to take responsibility, speak honestly without blaming, shaming, justifying, or denying. They must be willing to claim what responsibility lies with the “coach” or leader as well as the “players” or team members.
- Wins are treated as honestly as mistakes. They must be as honest about wins as they are about mistakes. They give praise and acknowledgments that stand alone and are not negated with mistakes made. And they do not give praise where it is not warranted just to save feelings or worry about someone feeling left out. Real praise is evident and rightly earned and therefore meaningful.
- Mistakes are gold. One of my favorite quotes is, “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” Leaders who truly value progress over perfection create a safe environment that team members can trust to acknowledge and speak honestly about mistakes without retribution. If perfection is the goal, fear, not trust, will be created. Even if they don’t say it, the team will know which it is, and if the team feels they are being motivated by fear versus their own growth potential, then a leader will never get the kind of candid honesty they need from their team to actually produce that growth.
This week, consider how your team creates an environment of trust, honesty, and a growth mindset so that you can truthfully analyze, learn, and grow from the mistakes made as well as continually celebrate the wins.
People make mistakes all the time. We learn and grow. If there’s patience and love, and you care for people, you can work them through it, and they can find their greatest heights.