Do leaders need to make amends? Wouldn’t that detract from their authority and influence? No one is perfect. Period. Regardless of someone’s status, position in an organization, or leadership role, they are not without flaws. People make mistakes. What someone does about their miscues informs their teammates who the leader is and what to expect. Appropriately done, making amends builds trust and respect.
Once, a colleague asked me to help with a leadership meeting they had prepared. They asked for assistance from me and one other and then assigned roles. During the well-planned and well-executed presentation, I disagreed with one of the points. Not only did I disagree, but I made it clear to the 10 managers in attendance. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have challenged the presenter during the meeting but met with them after. My ego got in my way. I was wrong. What should I do?
Why Leaders Need to Make Amends
Review my Actions
The first thing I did was go for a hike in the woods to reflect. Maybe the trails aren’t for everyone, but finding a quiet space is a key to reflection. How can amends be made until the infraction is defined? I thought about how my actions may have affected the presenter as well as the managers in attendance.
The day after the presentation, I approached the manager I had interrupted and apologized. I told them I wished I had kept my thoughts to myself rather than disrupt the meeting. I added that the presentation was a timely and much-needed talk and that they’d done an excellent job presenting. The manager accepted my apology with a bit of chagrin. They hadn’t been offended by my interruption and didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I explained I thought it took away from the presentation and told the manager I wouldn’t interrupt them during a presentation again. I may disagree but would talk one-on-one after. What I had done diminished points with the management team. I had more work to do.
Clear the Air with the Team
After meeting with the presenter, I made copies of the PowerPoint slide. Next, I went to every manager who had been in the meeting, explained I spoke out of turn, shared why I thought the information was relevant and asked each to review the material.
What’s the Lesson?
In the past, I may have swept the whole thing under the rug. Had I done this now, I would have missed an opportunity to connect with the team. By apologizing and making amends, I set an example. Remember, no one is perfect. I was able to share the information and explain its importance. By doing so, I assured myself my working relationship with the presenter was good, and I could put my mistake to rest. I didn’t have to worry or fret over what I had done. I had made amends. We all make mistakes, and we can all make amends. Leaders need to make amends.
How Can I Help You?
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Whereas I think you did a great job in going back to talk to your colleague after the meeting because you felt bad, I’m not totally sure I’d have done it. I say that because before I’d have agreed to participating I’d have asked what the content was and if I could see an outline. When it comes to business, especially leadership, I tend to be opinionated, and anyone who knew me would expect me to be me.
Truthfully, I think that’s why your colleague was nonplussed; probably knew you’d be you and appreciated it. Sometimes people know us better than we think they do. 🙂
Good point Mitch. There was an outline and we had talked about the meeting before hand, but my friend steered into new territory that I wasn’t prepared for. And you are absolutely right — my friend knew me well.