Regardless of who and where you are as a leader, refusing to admit that we’re wrong or take responsibility for our actions is one of the most destructive interpersonal flaws. And that because for most people expressing regret or apologising is a painstakingly tricky experience.
Why? Because they think it’s akin to losing a contest. Their ego prevents them from seeing that a simple apology can strengthen bonds between you and the people around you.
Making mistakes is part of who we are and what enriches our human experience. Facing, accepting, and working on our mistakes is what makes us wiser and eventually, more human. How we react, respond, and follow through on our errors and missteps says a lot about our character.
Over the years, I’ve realised that it’s far easier to recognise and accept your screw-ups and express regret with an apology. It could be as simple as saying “sorry.” And as a leader, humbly admitting to the mistakes and apologising is a critical component of your effectiveness an influencer in your personal and professional lives.
I think a genuine apology delivers a powerful message. It says…
That you care about the other person.
That you’re sorry for hurting their feelings.
That you can’t change the past.
That you will try to do better in the future.
It prompts people to move forward to something new and wonderful instead of staying tied to an unremarkable past.
That said, it’s not for everyone. Not everyone has the courage and humility to admit their wrongs or cede power or control, even if it’s all in their mind. And we know that people who can’t express regrets aren’t able to forgive, which further intoxicates the workplace.
If you’re a leader, you can’t let that happen. If you’ve got people who can’t let their guard down, talk to them, help them, and if things don’t improve, let them go. If you’re the one struggling to use the apology as a tool, perhaps you should step down. Or even better, seek help, it will do you and the ones around you a whole lot of good than you can imagine.
An apology is a powerful leadership tool.