As a leadership development firm, we provide leadership training and help future leaders and executives in improving leadership skills. One of the key tenets of developing and improving leadership skills is learning the art of apologizing properly when you commit any mistake professionally or personally.
It takes courage to accept responsibility for our actions and sincerely apologize for the mistakes we have made. Effective apologies build respect for your leadership skills and mend relationships, yet many leaders fail to capitalize on the opportunity to apologize and address the impact of their behavior.
Why do we fail to Apologize? – the biggest mistake in improving our leadership skills:
Nine times out of ten, it’s our ego that gets in the way. Our instinct is to protect our reputation. We quickly find reasons to justify our actions or blame others for the choices we made.
Typically, this is because we are embarrassed about our behavior or worried about our reputation. The excuses we make for our behavior set a poor example of leading above the line and impact the credibility we have as leaders.
Until and unless we learn the art of apologizing – we cannot be successful in developing and improving our leadership skills.
4 Ways about How to Start Developing and improving leadership skills – Mastering the Art of Apologizing:
4. To Develop Yourself as a Leader Start Accepting the Responsibility:
Apologizing sincerely is an art rather than a science for all great leaders. Sincere apologies start with accepting full responsibility for the behavior with the absence of any justification or blaming. This requires careful preparation from a leadership perspective.
Pay attention to the story you have built around the situation. You’re ready to apologize when your story includes more statements that start with “I” than those that explain how the other person triggered your behavior.
3. Acknowledge the Impact of Your Mistake as a Leader
Secondly, sincere and effective apologies include consideration of how your actions impacted others. Acknowledging the potential impact of your behavior lets others know that you understand their perspective and provides reassurance the behavior is not likely to be repeated.
To improve your leadership skills be prepared to check out your assumptions and listen to the other person’s perspective. For an apology to be effective, it needs to work well for the other person.
Having the humility to go for an open dialogue about the situation allows both parties to understand each other’s perspective and determine how best to move forward and develops yourself as an effective leader.
2. The Art of Apologizing for Developing Right Leadership Skills: – Right the Wrong
Too often we think we can simply say, “I’m sorry,” and everything will be okay. Sincere apologies include a clear and concise statement of what you are apologizing for and an expressed desire to right the wrong.
However, a leader who apologizes and then continues to repeat the below the line behavior quickly loses credibility. Committing to change the behavior and following through on those commitments demonstrates sincerity and sets a positive example for others to respect you as a leader.
1. Know When to Apologize: Developing Your Leadership Communication Skills
The art of apologizing involves knowing when apologies are required and when they’re not. Some people misuse the words “I’m sorry”, apologizing for every action or circumstance regardless of whether it is within their scope of control or responsibility.
Whether it’s an annoying verbal habit or there is sincere regret for the circumstances others find themselves in, overusing those 2 words serves to undermine the value of the sincerest apologies.
Occasionally, leaders apologize at inappropriate times. If, for example, a mandate comes down that requires you to deliver a message that you know will have a big impact on your people, do NOT apologize to your team when delivering the message.
A big part of leadership is being a team player and apologizing will only sabotage the leadership team’s mandate. Instead, deliver the message and allow your people to vent their concerns by spending some time “below the line”.
Then, support them in moving “above the line” by asking them to identify what they can do to rise above the circumstances and get the results they need.
In both personal and professional relationships, it’s important to identify when an apology is required. You can minimize the negative impact of your behavior by apologizing as quickly as possible.
Consider both what you want and what you do not want for the relationship. Your answers to these questions will help you determine what you need to do to repair the relationship and build your credibility.
When was the last time you dared to apologize for something you said or did? How was your apology received and what impact did it have on the relationship? What new things you have learned today for developing and improving leadership skills from this blog about The Art of Apologizing which improves leadership training for you and can make you a respectful leader for tomorrow?
Mark is the co-founder of Kesa Inc. He holds a MA in Leadership from Royal Roads University and is an ICF Certified Executive Coach. Mark’s first career was as a highly successful national champion college coach working in both team and individual sports and brings that experience to his work in organizations over the past 20 years. He is outstanding and sought after presenter.