Leadership requires setting direction and then influencing people to follow. And moving a group of people collectively in any direction is difficult—especially since you are ultimately accountable for the way your team and organization perform.
Because you have to account to your boss, your customers, and your team, it’s critical to own up when things go wrong (as, inevitably, they sometimes will). Writing in Inc. , tech columnist Jason Ater says the five words that signal extraordinary leadership are:
“I’m sorry. I was wrong.”
Although apologizing can feel excruciating, it will be less so if you give yourself permission to be wrong, says Ater. That doesn’t mean you should strive to be wrong. It does mean purging “the visceral reaction inside your soul that recoils at the idea of being wrong …”
Sometimes the words you say may come out a little different, but despite exact content, the intent of your heartfelt apology should be the same: "I'm really sorry, I didn't handle that well," or "I'm sorry, I really dropped the ball on that."
Usually, there are other words that need to follow, like what you plan to do to make right whatever you were wrong about. But notice what words are not in there--namely an excuse, explanation, or reason for your mistake. A high-impact apology should be pure.
Do you agree that admitting mistakes is an important leadership skill, and can you offer an example? To join the conversation, click "comments" above, just below the photo. We'd really like to get your feedback!