As a leader you won’t always get thing right. Because no matter which business school you went to, or how amazing people say you are, you’re still human. And when things go wrong, when you screw things up, when you make a mess, it is absolutely ok to say sorry.
Rather than being a weakness, apologising is both a strength and a means of asserting control. It demonstrates recognition and understanding of the situation and a desire to move on and progress.
The number of times I’ve heard teams, or employees complain along the lines of, “they know they’ve screwed up, but they’ve never even said sorry. That is all it would take”. Most people can accept that leaders get things wrong, they can’t accept that they’re too big to need to apologise.
That’s not to say that simply muttering the word, “sorry” can get you out of any situation, there is an authenticity and humility that needs to comes with it. We’re great at sniffing out a contrived response.
Recognising when you’ve fallen short, acknowledging, apologising and rectifying are critical steps in building real trust with the people who you lead. They’re also hugely important in your development and personal growth.
We talk a lot about engagement levels, happiness at work, productivity and health and wellbeing. Whilst I have no empirical evidence to back it up, I can’t help feeling that humble, respectful leadership would be a vital ingredient to success.