How To Apologize Like A Leader
There will come a time in every leader’s life when things don’t go their way. This is the reality of life, and I can tell you firsthand that it’s naive to think that you will always be right or that you will always find yourself on the winning end. You won’t, so deal with it! This is especially true if you are leading a large team and are responsible for making tough decisions. You will often be questioned as well as second guessed, but that’s the nature of leadership. When the final outcome of your choices becomes clear, there will be times that you will get the chance to think; “I told you so,” other times you will get the chance to hear it.
If you end up wrong, the only “real” choice you have is to face the music. A real leader is someone who can deal with their mistakes, then learn something from them so they are not repeated. You may be forgiven by your team for making a mistake, but you will lose their trust if you continue to make the same one over and over.
So todays question is this; “when is it OK to admit that you’re wrong?” Although this question has puzzled leaders for centuries, the answer is quite simple… when you’re wrong! Where we get a glimpse into someone’s character is watching to see if a person admits their mistake, to see if they take full responsibility, and then look at what they are doing to clean up the mess. I have found that when good leaders make mistakes, they own up to them and get to work fixing them as best they can, even if it hurts. This takes character, integrity and a greater desire to make things right.
I know that some of you may be thinking, “Isn’t admitting defeat a bit like quitting?” The answer to this question is no. In fact, it couldn’t be further from quitting. Let me explain; for those of you that know me, you know that I am an optimist and that I hate to lose. I never, under any circumstances say things like: “What are we going to do?” or “Hopefully I’ll do better next time.” This type of attitude is weak and lacks vision. However, one shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge defeat either. You see, a real leader has the ability to stand up tall and admit that they were wrong.
Accepting defeat is not the same as admitting defeat. I don’t believe that, as a leader, you should ever accept defeat. The only thing worse is someone that acts like they are a victim and then defers the blame to others. A “Never Give Up” mentality is what separates winners from losers. However, the ability to swallow your pride after making a mistake shows strength and can begin the process of forgiveness. With the right attitude and follow through, even a mistake can make you a stronger and better leader.
Finally, remember that this principle goes two ways. If you have a friend or leader who has made an error and is now stepping up, offer them understanding and forgiveness… Lord knows that it could be any of us the next time.
You’ve got this!