What had become the crowning work of William LeMessurier’s life nearly became the means of his disgrace. LeMessurier was the structural engineer who designed the Citicorp Center (now Citigroup Center), a steel skyscraper in New York with a unique design. The tower appears to be standing on stilts, and the top of the building is slanted at a 45-degree angle. At the time of its construction in 1977, Citicorp Center was the seventh-tallest building in the world. However, LeMessurier discovered a fatal flaw in the skyscraper’s construction. Because the joints in the superstructure had been bolted instead of welded, the tower did not have the structural integrity to endure the strong quartering winds which came through New York every 16 years.
William LeMessurier could have revealed his error, possibly costing him his reputation and career; he could have committed suicide to avoid the embarrassment; or he could have kept silent and hoped against the legitimate possibility that people might lose their lives on account of his mistake.
LeMessurier decided to admit the problem and propose a solution. Surprisingly, the executives and city officials he met with supported him. The necessary repairs were made, the building was reinforced, and LeMessurier’s reputation was salvaged. William LeMessurier’s admission of failure was the key to his ultimate success.
While a leader’s initial failure may be due to carelessness, shallowness, covetousness, laziness, or selfishness, her humble admission of error will set her apart and earn her respect in the long run. When she owns up to her mistakes, she demonstrates concern, depth of character, and selflessness. These traits are vital to successful leadership.
Everyone makes mistakes. The question is, are you willing to admit it when they happen? You can pretend there is no problem, shift the blame, or accept full responsibility by saying, “I was wrong.” Your response will reveal your character and determine how successful you want to be.
Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.