When someone has a collision on a roadway, it’s often called an accident. A (retired) Police Officer and good friend once told me there are no accidents on the road. When a collision occurs, someone is making a choice that leads to the collision. When it comes to driving, there are many choices people make daily which might create the conditions for a collision to occur.
People choose to be distracted by their phones while driving. People choose to change lanes putting themselves dangerously close to the front of another vehicle. Drivers choose not to drive according to the road conditions. None of these choices are accidents.
Leaders make choices
When it comes to there being no such thing as accidents, I believe the same is true in Leadership. There are no accidents or mistakes. There are only the choices you make, which results in an outcome that may or may not be what you intended.
Here in Ontario, Rod Phillips, our Finance Minister, went to St. Barts (in the Caribbean) with his family over the holidays. Our premier, Doug Ford, called him out on the inappropriateness of the trip amid a pandemic given the lockdown we’re currently in. Phillips has since resigned from his cabinet position and apologized saying that going on the trip was a mistake.
A mistake is by definition “an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgement caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.” This says to me a mistake is the result of something having happened. So, yes, the trip was a mistake, likely caused by an error in judgement on his part.
What I’m more interested in, though, are the choices made which led to the trip happening amid a pandemic. Without looking at these choices, little will change, and we will see a repeat of this type of mistake.
When the government is about to put the province into a lockdown that will undoubtedly result in people losing jobs, small businesses closing, and other hardships; perhaps a better choice, as a leader, would have been for Phillips to cancel the trip. I can only imagine how difficult such a choice would be, but that’s what leaders do. Leaders make tough choices for the sake of what’s right and what they believe.
When leaders don’t act with integrity and make the difficult choices, it calls into question…