screw-up.jpgThe Internet is all a twitter this morning over a gaffe made by the editor-at-large of Time on the Morning Joe show today. But it may be a newly hired, behind-the-scenes producer that takes the fall.

The editor, Michael Halperin, who is also an analyst for MSNBC, said: “I thought he was a dick yesterday,” referring to the President’s behavior during his press conference. Apparently, everyone around the Morning Joe table thought they were operating under a delay and the word “dick” could be cut out. Alas, it was not.


This from Politico.com:

Host Joe Scarborough hoped to prevent the comment from being broadcast, saying, “Delay that. Delay that. What are you doing? I can’t believe… don’t do that. Did we delay that?”

Just minutes later, Halperin quickly apologized to the president and viewers for his choice of words. “Joking aside, this is an absolute apology. I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize to the president and the viewers who heard me say that,” Halperin said.

“We’re going to have a meeting after the show,” Scarborough said.

The meeting doesn’t seem to be about raking Halperin over the coals for saying dick.

Again from Politico:

According to Scarborough, there had been a mishap with the seven-second delay button – a new executive producer apparently didn’t know how it worked. “You are supposed to know how to do the job,” Scarborough said of his producer. “I would tell you what I think of him, but he doesn’t know what button to push.”

It’s not a good sign when your boss tells the whole world you screwed up big time.

This may make many of your cringe. And you’re probably wondering how someone ever survives such a public mistake and actually goes on to a successful career. Well, everyone screws up.

The most creative and cutting edge executives I have interviewed in my career tended to be the ones that readily talked about past mistakes. Indeed, they wore their mistakes like a badge of honor, convinced their foibles made them better leaders. Often times, the mistakes they made happened early in their careers, some right out of college, others during a job transition. Sometimes their mistakes caused thousands, even millions, of dollars to the companies they worked for, in other cases it was just the costly price of sheer humiliation.

But in all these cases, their mistakes did not cost them their career, or derail their ultimate accession to the top of the heap. On the contrary, many believe it was exactly these mistakes that helped propel them the heights of leadership because they were able to come away from their mistakes better and smarter. Early on in his career, Sears’ CEO never expected any of his workers to even think about stealing from him. This naiveté cost him big time when he first became a manager. And the head of Quicken Loans dreaded firing workers so much, it ended up wreaking havoc on his company.

In both case, these two executive learned the importance of facing the reality of life, and putting in controls to manage the ups and downs of the work world.

Okay, none of these leaders loved bungling situations up. But I got the sneaking suspicion they were happy to have erred early on in their careers and learned from their experiences as they set out to hone their skills. And the bottom line among most of them – admit you’re wrong and move on.

Admitting you’re wrong is key. If you try to lie your way out of a fumble it could end up being even worse.

There’s a lot of pressure on young workers in particular, especially during that first job they believe, or hope, will lead them down a successful career path, says Tim Ursiny, author of “The Coward’s Guide to Conflict: Empowering Solutions for Those Who Would Rather Run Than Fight.”

But, he warns, lying impacts your confidence, especially early on in your career. “Once you cover something up it’s going to create a bit of insecurity. It’s called the imposter syndrome.”

It can also be damaging to your career if the lie is discovered. And then there’s your identity. “When you lie something happens that is known in psychology as cognitive dissonance. Our belief and our actions must match up,” he says. If they don’t that creates an identity tension. You begin to justify one lie after the other, potentially creating a pattern of integrity lapses.

That said, I don’t want to just focus on this poor, new producer. What about Halperin? How does he maintain his integrity? Was an apology enough?

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