Coaching Fail: Knowing When to Apologize

In _Home, Leadership Practice by Shaun Hall1 Comment

Coaching Fails are bound to happen, but good leaders are able to use them as coaching successes. Coaching fails are perfect times to show how to apologize properly. How to swallow your pride and own your imperfections while also demonstrating your ability to diagnose and improve. All things you expect your people to do.

Admitting weakness as a leader is a strength. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Showing this side of yourself will bolster your team’s morale and increase trust within the team. With that said, recognizing when your the one that’s wrong is extremely difficult. There are many ways leaders can be wrong and often, they are in the leader’s blind spots.

That’s what I plan to share with you today. Some of the techniques I use to self-reflect and recognize when I need to apologize.

Read Crucial Conversations

Possibly the most important book a leader can read. Read it and read it again for a reminder. It dives deep into how humans are inferior at communicating and making decisions when the stakes are high. It gives a lot of practical tips on how to recognize when you might not be at your best.

Know your emotions

The easiest way for a leader to recognize if they are potentially in the wrong is if they made a decision or had a conflict as a result of emotion. This is the fight or flight response. If you said something because you were feeling defensive, this is a flag that you need to assess what happened. When you are in defense mode, you are not at your best. This results in a high likely hood of you making a mistake. “A speech given in anger will be the best speech you will ever regret.” I, myself apologizing for getting defensive often. It’s human nature, but that is not an adequate excuse.

Mine for feedback

This doesn’t have to be done by you. I asked my boss if he could make part of my performance review based on feedback from my team. This is a great way to allow for anonymous feedback to be given while holding yourself accountable to their perception. He has periodic check-ins with everyone on my team and asks how I’m doing. If there is a problem I am unaware of, he provides a safety net, so it doesn’t go unaddressed for an extended period. I hope that my team is comfortable enough to bring all issues to me but its good to have a backup plan in case something falls to your blind spot.

From here the only advice I have is that your apology needs to be genuine. Make yourself vulnerable. Your people don’t expect you’re to be perfect. By bringing a meaningful apology with a quick turnaround will only solidify the fact that you are their leader and one worth following. This is a skill that needs to be practiced, so you need to keep on it for a while. If you have never apologized to anyone on your team, my guess is that you have something to apologize for. It’s up to you to figure it out and recognize the future opportunities as they come.

As always, please share your tips and strategies in the comments below. Please connect with me on social media @ShaunHallTalk and leave me some suggestions on what you would like for me to write about in the future. I hope you enjoyed the read!

Further Reading: Crucial Conversations

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  1. You outdid yourself on this one! I have read the book Crucial Conversations when I managed a team of 31 Therapists. I am so tempted to send this to one of the Broker’s here that continues to loose his temper and go off on people (me included). But I’m scared LOL! Thanks I very much enjoyed the read!

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