When You Apologize, It Influences Results

“A good leader is unafraid to apologize because it positively influences relationships, revenues, and results.” Jeannette Seibly

A note from Jeannette about apologizing: Remember, no relationship is perfect, and all will have upsets. As a leader, learn how to apologize genuinely… it’s an essential part of communicating effectively. Contact me if you’re unclear about how to apologize or if your recent apology only created more upset.

An employee met with her boss to resolve a critical distribution issue. Unfortunately, he didn’t come prepared and didn’t have the answers. She kept pressing him for the answers she needed. Instead of apologizing for not coming prepared, he left the meeting upset with her. Thirty days later, she left the company.

In my last article, Are Your Relationships Working?, I was surprised by the number of leaders (and others) that said they never apologize. To them, it’s a sign of weakness! They are wrong. Actually, apologizing shows strength and confidence in yourself as a leader. It positively influences your results, retention (aka relationships), and revenues! If you don’t know if you apologize when needed, ask your coach and mentor.

It’s not hard to apologize for your mistakes, misunderstandings, or the words you chose (e.g., profanity, mispronouncing someone’s name, misusing jargon, etc.).

But when leaders refuse to apologize, they don’t realize the mischief and hurt feelings they’ve created:

  • Resentment
  • Gossip
  • Avoidance behavior
  • Snarky remarks
  • Turnover
  • Profitability
  • Loss of customers, jobs, promotions, or pay increases
  • The list is endless!

Let me state this again … as a leader, you don’t have the luxury of not apologizing. It’s your responsibility to keep relationships positive with employees, co-workers, vendors, customers, and even your boss.

How to Make a Genuine Apology

Always start with honesty, courage, and respect, and extend the “olive branch.”

  1. Be present with what you said or the mistake you made. Please keep an open door so that team members can express their concerns. Set aside your ego and openly listen! Then, communicate immediately with your executive coach if you’re uncomfortable offering a genuine apology. Remember, the longer you wait, the more likely a mushroom-size issue becomes the size of a mountain with everyone taking sides!
  2. Offer “I’m sorry” or “I apologize.” Make it 1:1 or with the team (if appropriate). Otherwise, the elephant in the room will stop team members from listening and participating, negatively impacting your results.
  3. Listen to their response. If they are angry because you waited too long or you’ve humiliated them, listen and learn without rebuttal. Apologize once more after they’ve said what they needed to say. But don’t keep on apologizing if it’s not making a difference. Wait for cooler heads to prevail.
  4. Stop defending yourself. The situation happened. Being right or making them wrong won’t get the issue resolved and everyone back in focused action. Start with an apology. Share the goal or intended outcome. Ask if anyone has anything else to say. If they do, don’t defend or use excuses (e.g., “Yeah, but”). If they don’t, move on.
  5. Ask what you can do to resolve it. What needs to happen to move forward? Ask for their opinion and input. Then, wherever possible, use their idea(s) and follow through immediately. If you don’t, the resentment will continue to build.
  6. Forgiveness works magic. Genuine apologies allow you and them to let go of resentments. Then, true forgiveness is possible.

PS: Remember to forgive others who have offended you or made inappropriate comments.

Remember, all relationships have their upsets. As a leader, learn how to apologize genuinely… it’s an essential part of communicating effectively.

©Jeannette Seibly 2019-2023 All Rights Reserved

Jeannette Seibly is The Leadership Results Coach. She’s celebrating 30 years as an award-winning international executive consultant, speaker, and coach. Her clients value the listening and positive difference she brings to any conversation. Feel stuck in a sticky situation or a challenging relationship? Want straightforward counsel to blast through it? Contact Jeannette for a confidential discussion. PS: She’s also a three-time Amazon Best-Selling Author!

This week’s PODCAST:

Listen to Do Whatever You Can to Serve Others with my guest, Deb Krier, on The Entrepreneurial Leader.

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