Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Apologizing the right way

"I will apologize when she apologizes."
"I have nothing to apologize for."
"It's hard for me to admit I was wrong."
"Apologizing is a sign of weakness."
Do any of these statements sound familiar? The statement, "I'm sorry" is one of the most difficult to speak in the English language, because there are feelings attached- embarrassment, shame, and any other discomforting emotions that may come along with the situation. In the book, the Effective Apology, by John Kador, he states that an 'apology is humanity's response to imperfection.'
An apology, on the contrary, is a courageous gesture that promotes transparent leadership showing a sign of strength. "Apologizing does not always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego." Unknown
  1. Be empathetic.
    According to Kador, showing empathy in the apology means that you feel the victim's pain. Example of an empathetic apology: I am sorry I yelled at you about missing the deadline, there just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to get things done. I want to understand your workload. This will result in dialogue about why the deadline was missed and could avoid future occurrences.
  2. Keep it short.
    A short, empathetic apology is the most effective. When we start making excuses as to why we displayed negative behavior it soon becomes an apology that is suitable for our needs and not the victim. For example, "I am sorry I yelled at you about missing the deadline. I was having a bad day and I wanted to be able to give the report at the Board meeting……"
    Determine what it is you are apologizing for, is it the fact that you publicly yelled at your co-worker for missing the deadline or were you angry because you couldn't present the data at the meeting. If the apology is due to the latter, you are apology to suit your own satisfaction rather than the inappropriate behavior and addressing the feelings of the victim.
  3. Be prepared to 'pay restitution'.
    If the person was wronged in front of a group of people, such as in a meeting, be ready to publicly apologize to the individual at the next meeting. Be sure to apologize to the person in private first, then in public. The 'victim' will be more appreciative of the gesture and know that the apology is genuine. Hence, the public apology is the restitution.
When the situation arises and there is a need for an apology, ask yourself, how much do you value your relationship?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Creating your positive pep talk

Do you hate Mondays? Not a morning person? Giving yourself a pep talk in the morning before you go to work can get you ready for the day and one in the evening can offer confirmation. Think about the coach of a football team, a coach revs up the players before the game and after the game whether they lose or win, confirms what went well and offers encourage for the next game. I witnessed this form of positive enforcement when I recently took my 8 year old daughter to school. All the children were standing in their respective lines waiting to go inside. As I was leaving, the principal came out with a bull horn and said the following, which everyone had to repeat:

Principal: Good morning, children.

Everyone: Good morning.

Principal: I am special.

Everyone: I am special. (repeated 2 times)

Principal: We are special.

Everyone: We are special. (repeated 2 times)

Principal: We absolutely, positively love our school.

Everyone: We absolutely, positively love our school.

Principal: Have a good day.

Everyone: Have a good day.

After the morning" pep talk," everyone was led into the school. I began thinking that this is a wonderful way to start the day – a pep talk. It starts you on the right track and prepares your mind with positive thinking. Do you have pep talk? What do you tell yourself each day when you wake up and before you lay down to go to sleep?

Preparing the pep talk

So you're thinking, 'what can I say? How should I start?' Your personally designed pep talk should include (but is not limited to) the following:

  • At least 3 - 5 sentences of positivity
  • Something easy to remember
  • Should be said with conviction and each sentence repeated at least once

Here are some examples:

Pep Talk AM:

Today is a new day.

I am good at what I do.

I will learn something new.

I will not let others change my attitude.

I will do well today.

This is a great exercise for those of you who hate Mondays or are not morning people. I challenge you to create a positive pep talk and recite it every day and see the difference in your attitude at the start and end of the day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Succession planning II: How to follow a bad leader

In a previous article, I wrote about how to follow a good leader, this article is going to discuss how to follow a leader who was less than effective. Nobody is perfect. We have made bad decisions, but some of us make more than others. The good news is we can learn from those mistakes and set a positive example so that the next leader will have an easier job.

People hesitate to accept a leadership role following a bad leader because they feel that they will be held accountable, compared to, or blamed for the previous leaders actions. People will expect miraculous change overnight from the new leader and are easily disappointed when the change does not occur. Does this sound familiar in any of today's leaders? Fortunately, there are ways in which you can follow a bad leader:

  1. Don't mimic the previous leader's actions. Make your own footsteps, instead of following in theirs.
  2. Ask for input from team members or people familiar with the previous leadership.
  3. Evaluate current procedures, note deficiencies, and make modifications.
  4. Don't make the same mistakes twice.
  5. Seek the guidance of a mentor, someone who has positive experiences in a leadership role.

Accepting a leadership role means leading others to a common goal. To be an effective leader, remember the seven laws of leadership. Following a bad leader just means relighting the torch and carrying it to the finish.