Monday, August 22, 2011

Two Leadership Power Words

Photo by John Morgan

Two of the most powerful words in a leader's vocabulary are also some of the most difficult for many leaders to speak.

Last week I wrote about how to ensure we hear the truth. If we commit to hearing the truth, we inevitably discover we screwed up. No leader is perfect - no one I know is perfectly consistent with their own values or treats everyone perfectly all the time. Despite our best efforts, we will let someone down or make a mistake.

When someone brings this to our attention, it is one of the most vital leadership opportunities we ever have.

Two of the most powerful words a leader can ever say?

I'm sorry.

A sincere apology has many benefits:

1) It models accountability. If we want others to take responsibility, we certainly need to do the same.

2) It builds trust and credibility. Leaders sometimes fear that admitting a mistake will undermine their credibility, but the opposite is generally true.

3) It builds relationship. When we apologize, we acknowledge the dignity and importance of those we have hurt.

4) It makes it easier for others to apologize. We've opened the door so others can step through it.

5) It gives us a chance to start over or move on. When we try to move on without an apology, we introduce unresolved issues that can taint the results we're after.

6) It extends grace to ourself and to others.

These are just a few benefits...what else does a good apology do?

David M. Dye

PS: If you find yourself needing to apologize constantly, that is a sign that you may need to develop your competency in a particular area. Find someone to help you acquire the skills you need. Email me if nothing else!

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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