In a recent incident, someone scolded an person I had employed. There was a small mistake on his part. But the response of the person scolding him was terrible and she demanded that he be fired for this mistake. While I agreed to the mistake and apologized, I was quite upfront telling her that she was in no position to dictate terms to my employee. The event ended with all sides making peace.
As an employer/boss, it is quite often that an employee will make mistake. Either by oversight, lack of maturity or just in the heat of sheer moment , they do something that will cause minor trouble for others. If the response( for example in form of customer anger) is overwhelming, it may demotivate the employee. As a team leader your job is then to find , if the mistake was an unintentional act and if the employee was being careless.
On the other hand, if you have a team and that team works hard for you, then it is also your responsibility to protect them. It is also your job to provide them visibility for their performance. Sometimes you will need to fight your seniors to get them the things they deserve. Sometimes you may need to let them go , for example to other companies/projects because their interests do not align with yours temporarily. If you stand up for them and be with them in time of need, you win them for life.
I have never forgotten my bosses and college professors who allowed me to express my thought processes and work on my own terms. They always got the best productivity from me.
It is a very fine line to walk to own someone’s wrong doing but there is no choice. You have to risk the walk. Either stand up and take ownership or risk getting a demotivated employee. Standing up for your employees when they have committed unintentional mistake because of naivety, inexperience or oversight will raise your image in his/her eyes. But do not forget to warn him or her about not repeating the same mistake.