Earlier today, I read about Representative Ted Yoho’s apology to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and it made me wonder — What can we small business leaders learn from his attempt to save face? Think about that for a moment — There are days when running a small business can be a little too much to handle. Everything starts to bear down on you and before you know it, you lash out at someone. You find yourself saying or doing something publicly that you immediately wish you could take back. But you can’t and the damage has been done. Now, everyone is looking at you — waiting to witness your next step. Before I go any further, I want to be clear, this is not a political post. This is an opportunity for us business leaders to turn the mirrors on ourselves and ask, “How would I have addressed this?” Well, if we listen to the lessons our parents taught us, we would start with an apology. Not some, “I’m passionate” battle cry bull — An actual “mea culpa.”
If you struggle with that, here are four straightforward steps any business owner, leader or role model can take for an effective apology —
1. Admit Your Mistake. As a leader and a role model, it’s crucial that you don’t dance around this — Admit your error. The sooner you do, the sooner the ordeal will be over. Try to avoid the following statement — “I’m sorry you were hurt by my words.” That’s addressing the recipients pain but ignoring your own actions. And, don’t play the victim. — No one wants to hear WHY you behaved a certain way. <— That may require a separate discussion. Your apology should address YOUR actions and WHO you harmed — That is it.
2. Express Regret for Your Actions. Here’s where your maturity takes over — Take full ownership for your actions and the impact of your actions on others. Let the recipient of your apology know you feel bad about your behavior and you don’t intend to do what you did ever again.
3. Ask for Forgiveness. Typically, people just want to feel validated. When you hurt a person and refuse to ask for forgiveness, you are attacking their value. As a leader, you can set a huge example by showing some humility and compassion and asking the recipient of your apology — no matter who they are — for forgiveness.
4. Pay a Little Penance. Close your apology by explaining how you intend to repair the damage caused by your actions. Then, do it. But, before you do, you may want to work with the person you hurt or offended to be sure you are actually making amends (and not addressing your own ego or guilt)
Side Note: Your Culture is Your Business’ Brand.
A lack of an apology from a leader could negatively affect the overall culture of the business. It creates a toxic environment; the level of trust diminishes; and it damages relationships. On top of that, it can negatively impact the business leader’s reputation — Which, in the end, can be a diret hit to the company’s brand.
Kawania Wooten is the principal consultant at Howerton+Wooten Events, LLC. Known to her friends and family as Kay, she uses artistic skills, her keen attention to the smallest details and her strong commitment to customer service as the hallmark of her business. As the founder of the company, Kawania strives for professionalism, creativity and impeccable organization within every function planned by Howerton+Wooten Events.