Leadership Tip of the Week: Forgiving

“Sir, I made a mistake.”

This is seldom something you want to hear at the beginning of an important meeting. In this case, my junior leader was confessing to a mistake with shame and remorse. I braced for impact but was relieved to hear the mistake wasn’t catastrophic.

A few hours later, I was approached by another junior leader. This time, I heard the following: “Sir, it wasn’t my fault, I told them it was a problem and they didn’t listen to me.”

Two different leaders, both making a mistake on the same day — but each one handled it differently. The second leader had no remorse and couldn’t admit to having made a mistake.

It can sometimes be hard for a leader to forgive. I was quick to pardon the leader who admitted to their mistake, but I was a little slower to forgive the leader who required a little extra coaching to realize that it was their mistake and not their team’s.

A forgiving leader should act with patience and understanding, but this works best when it is aligned with learning and development.

A good friend of mine always said, “A leader should forgive but never forget.”

This is important. Leaders should learn how to forgive, but mistakes and errors have to be corrected or they will be repeated. When a leader forgives, they should make sure that learning and development have occurred.

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February 25, 2020 at 5:49 am

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