CEOs should apologize.
Every CEO is in a position of leadership, and that means that every day, people are looking to your actions.
It's not just about being strategic. We need to ask ourselves: Am I clear in my direction, am I kind in my communication, and do I live my life according to principle?
It's one of the greatest calls to living a life of excellence, because whether people mean to or not, they're watching - absorbing - your every move.
CEOs also make mistakes. And that's where the graciousness of your team, and the graciousness of you, come in. We need to apologize, and quickly.
I'd say that as a leader, some of my most painful times are when I am not able to be the person I want to be. Perhaps there is an unexpected pressure ... a new partnership ... a deadline that wasn't known ... or a team member who needs extra help. Perhaps you weren't able to get accomplished what you'd hoped that day.
Yet we can't lose our presence as CEOs.
You're Responsible for You.
Get the sleep that you need; build in the space in your day. If you don't, you're going to face pressure that might encourage you to react in ways that are not the true you. And whether we succeed or not, CEOs want to be their best selves at all times. We don't always succeed ... I know I don't always succeed.
To take it a step further, I believe CEOs should apologize in advance. How many days have there been when I've gone home at night so disappointed in myself; could I have had a kinder tone; could I not have slowed down a bit more to encourage that team member who needed a bit more time, a bit more insight?
And so not only do I try to apologize when right to do so, but I also apologize in advance. Let your team know you need their support.
So if I feel I don't have a strong understanding of the situation, or I haven't gotten through all my emails or voicemails, I will often preface conversations with the team, "I apologize in advance if I don't have the full information," or "I apologize in advance if I've missed something," or "I apologize if I am moving very quickly today, and speaking very rapidly. I appreciate your support."
This is openness. It's true, it's real. It's compassionate all ways around.
It sets your heart up to be a better leader, to be a humble leader, to be a listening leader. It sets up appropriate expectations with your team. Your apology is asking them for their graciousness in advance.
"Graciousness in advance." What a lovely concept we all deserve to experience.