I just found an old agenda for a business meeting, and the first point of order on it said: APOLOGIZE.
Leaders make mistakes, and when we do, there is no bigger priority than to first and foremost apologize to your team.
Here's why that matters ...
In this case, I owed my team an apology for how I had spoken the day prior in a meeting. I was rushed, without sleep, and had been extremely short and grumpy.
Guess what happened when I apologized? They shrugged and said, "We've all been there." What was MORE important though was that my apology as a leader made sure they understood THEIR value.
Leaders aren't any more or less perfect than the people they lead. The difference is that, when we have a bad day, our people can be left feeling stressed and anxious.
"But Karolyn, what about when they DESERVE it because they screwed up?"
So, the reality is that everyone deserves dignity and respect at all times and especially when they've made a mistake. We leaders are human. We make mistakes. We have days where we are not the best version of ourselves. Everyone does this.
The difference between a leader that employees genuinely want to follow and those leaders that people feel "forced" to follow is often in the apology. Thanks to my mentors, who taught me this! ;-)
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Giant Sequoias are the largest trees on earth. They can grow up to 3,000 years, and it ends up that fire is what makes it all possible. It is only when the earth is scorched that the cones they hold up in their tall branches open up and a rain of seeds fall to the ground. The fire cleans up the ground, which is necessary because the seeds need to hit the bare mineral soil in order to survive that allows them to make it through the winter snow. They find their birth among the ashes and rise to the heavens and all of us marvel.
The most loving thing a leader can do for their team is to be consistent. Consistent is defined as: "Acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate."
Being a consistent leader means that your employees can trust that you will do what you say you are going to do and that you will behave fairly in your actions.