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2016 7 June


Taking responsibility for failure is the hallmark of a great leader. Here's how to win when things go wrong.

By Eric Barton - 7 June 2016

Rejecting your ego

Cristina Mariani-May recently experienced firsthand how difficult it was to admit she was wrong.

Her family owns New York-based Banfi Wines, which has exported Italian wine worldwide since 1919. Since 1978, it has also owned a Tuscan vineyard.

It was her father, John Mariani, who came up with the idea seven years ago of opening a hotel on their seven-acre Italian property. During a meeting in the Montalcino office they share, he suggested the company could run the hotel themselves. Mariani-May argued they needed to bring in an expert. Things got heated, and it seemed like there was no compromise.

Mariani-May agreed to study the two options. Two years later, after checking with other winery owners, she came back to her father with a difficult answer: He was right.

“I had to swallow my pride, and I had to admit I was wrong,” Mariani-May recalled. “It wasn’t easy, but once I took credit for making the wrong decision, we could move on.”

Five years ago the company opened Castello Banfi il Borgo, a privately run 14-room hotel on the grounds of a 12th Century castle. Since then,Condé Nast Travelerranked it among the best hotels in Italy, andFodor's Travelnamed it one of the 10 best wine country hotels in the world. It wouldn’t have been possible, Mariani-May said, if she first hadn’t admitted she made a mistake.

“That’s one of the assets of good management. Don’t go into any big project with ego, and be ready to admit when you’ve made a mistake.”




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