In the movie Love Story the main character famously says, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
It sounds very romantic, and for a long time I loved that quote—but over all the years that I have worked with leaders and organizations and teams, I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t really apply in leadership or in life.
When it comes to building, restoring and developing relationships, you have to say you are sorry.
And it’s not enough to just say you’re sorry—you have to sincerely apologize, to show that you’re willing to break old patterns and take real action in a timely and powerful way.
Here are some of the factors in a true apology:
Vulnerability. The first step in restoring a relationship is to let go of ego. This can be hard for those who value strength and control in their leadership. But apologizing gives you more control and potential power that you could imagine. To be vulnerable is to show strength; to let go of the ego can transform any relationship instantaneously.
Timing. Apologies need to happen sooner than later—as quickly as possible. Delays often make the situation worse. Your apology loses its meaning and you end up causing more harm then good. The time and circumstance need to be both immediate and right.
Accountability. In leadership and in life, it’s a natural impulse to blame someone for your faults and mistakes. But the best leaders know that the best policy is always to take accountability for yourself. Blaming others destroys relationships; playing victim destroys your reputation. Accountability strengthens both.
Fence-mending. Many leaders pride themselves on being right, but the best —the ones who lead from within—know that being kind might be even more important. Even if you know you are right, sometimes the best reward is to mend fences. Prolonging an argument and lengthening a dispute doesn’t further your leadership. On the other hand, mending fences is characteristic someone who understands that leadership is not about scoring points but building lasting relationship and restoring faith.
The best way to apologize is by letting go of your ego, speaking as soon as the time is right, holding yourself accountable, and staying on the high road.
Whether or not you win the battle, you’ll win in character. And your kindness will affect your leadership, which in turn will affect those around you.
The only thing stopping you from healthy and happy relationships may be the belief that leadership means not having to say you’re sorry.
Lead From Within: A true leader is able to apologize when they are wrong and mend fences when they are broken to restore trust to their relationships and friendships.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.