Leadership and the Neglected Power of Apology
In her extraordinary 2002 book, The Power of Apology, renowned therapist and author Beverly Engel explains how an apology can transform a relationship and, collectively, how apologies can transform the world. Just think where we would be if our leaders really took this to heart. Not only would leadership be transformed, our world would be transformed.
If our political leaders said, “I am profoundly sorry for leading us into this war. It was a mistake, many lives were lost, and I take full responsibility.” If they said, “I acted unethically, imprudently, and irresponsibly. I am truly sorry for everyone I have hurt and will accept full responsibility for the consequences of my actions.” If our business leaders said, “I was entrusted with the privilege of managing your invested money and I broke that trust. I was greedy and I wasted your hard-earned money, and I truly feel the pain of your loss and the hardship you will endure. I will pay for my wrongs and work to restore my integrity and credibility.” If our religious leaders said, “I helped to create and protect a culture that allowed my colleagues to molest young people for generations. I am sincerely sorry for the devastating pain it has caused to so many people. I accept my legal and moral responsibility, and will work tirelessly for the rest of my days to bring joy and light into people’s lives.”
Why do we rarely see this? As a people, we are quite forgiving. We love redemption. Why can’t our leaders see this? Why do they perpetuate the harm caused by their actions by justifying them to the point of absurdity?
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