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
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
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.