Home » Making amends

Should a leader apologize when he or she makes a mistake, or is it a sign of weakness?
In the front line leadership course we have two case studies on balancing friendship and leadership. This is a unique situation faced by supervisors and team leaders who have been promoted from within. One case study deals with an employee who asks for special treatment from his supervisor. The second describes a supervisor who was known to be an employee who broke the rules.
The question is, should the new supervisor with a questionable past try to ignore, cover up or make excuses for her previous behavior?
Employees have pretty good BS detectors and they are looking for transparency from their manager or supervisor. They can quickly tell when their boss is trying to pull a fast one on them.
Recently I have coached three senior leaders on how to say it like it is and even be prepared to apologize when they have made the wrong decision or breached someone’s trust.
For the newly appointed supervisor with the questionable past it is time to own up to those previous transgressions as a stepping stone to developing a respectful, transparent relationship with her workgroup.
Putting the Ideas into Action
  • If you are in a leadership role and have made mistakes or breached trust then own up to it. You will gain credibility and respect from your employees.
  • Instead of trying to project a stoic, unemotional leadership style why not let your guard down a bit and be more approachable. Being more ‘real’ with your employees can create a better sense of teamwork.
  • Remember that employees have good BS detectors and that means you should say it like it is even when the message is painful.