Leaders should never be afraid to apologize. Being chapter president or CEO doesn't make you any less prone to errors. However, leaders often feel they aren't allowed to show weakness or make mistakes. The reality is that taking responsibility for one's actions can actually be the courageous choice and one that builds trust within your chapter or workplace. As with any apology - whether it is to a loved one, your co-workers or your sorority sisters - it is important that apologies are genuine and never followed by an excuse. The best apologies include the following:
The letter "I" - Apologies should always be said in first person. For example, "I'm sorry you feel that way" isn't much of an apology, but "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings" lets someone know that you are aware your actions were at fault.
Acknowledgment - Tell people exactly why you are saying I'm sorry. This lets your followers know that you understand where you went wrong. "I'm sorry that I made a big decision about the Crescent Classic without consulting you. I know I made you feel like we weren't a team."
An action - If you have made a mistake your apology should include an action; you need to let people know what you are going to do about it. This ends your apology on a positive note and gives you something constructive to show that you are genuinely sorry. It should be straight forward and feasible, and following through is a must. "I'm sorry that I didn't give you any time to discuss your new recruitment idea at this week's executive council meeting. I am going to put you first on the agenda at our next meeting."
Apologizing is never easy, but it can be a powerful gesture when done with sincerity and respect and one of the best ways to lead by example.