An apology is always warranted as long as it’s real and sincere and followed up with a genuine attempt to change one’s behavior. I know some people who are very good at apologizing and do it often. “I’m sorry…ooops, sorry again…sorry…uh oh, I’m sooooo sorrry.” After a while I’m thinking, “yeah, you are.”
The apology is never a fix for incompetence or flat-out unethical behavior, unless, again, it’s followed up by significantly improved action.
I believe the same holds true for our elected officials. But they have an additional challenge: we hear what they have to say in soundbites, and we may not get the full context of their message. Out-of-context snippets can be spun in all kinds of ways. A simple “I’m sorry,” can be spun by opponents to mean “I suck; please elect someone else next time.” I don’t know the solution.
Day-to-day, in-the-trenches business leaders don’t have to rely on the media to convey their messages. We get to do it ourselves, person to person and heart to heart. That’s why I think I’ll stick to business.