Leadership and the elusive apology (Guest commentary)

Contrary to popular belief, leaders who apologize following a mistake show their strength rather than expose weakness
By Heather Dezan and Julian Barling
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/13/2006

Leaders may find themselves in complex situations where saying sorry is the best course of action. Unfortunately, apologies are often elusive.

Sometimes leaders are fully responsible for difficult situations, while at other times the difficulties are products of the external environment or the result of a complex combination of events. No matter how unfortunate situations emerge, they often threaten or even destroy important relationships. Organizational leaders are then left to manage and rectify these fragile interpersonal or inter-organizational relationships.

In such situations, two central questions emerge: Could leaders have avoided or minimized such damage? And once these situations have emerged, can leaders extricate themselves and even enhance the relationships?