Leadership Development

When did “I’M SORRY”…become a leadership trait?






When did “I’M SORRY”…become a leadership trait?



I don’t know about you but I’m sick and tired of hearing CEO’s who by the way are pulling in gazillion dollar salaries give the good ole boy/aw shucks “I’m sorry” excuse. Last week Roger Goodell apologizes profusely of his bungling and incompetent leadership as commissioner of the NFL, but still collects a paycheck that will pay lifetimes. Countless Presidents, Senators, Entertainers have cried “I’m Sorry” only after getting caught or exposed as incompetent and its led me to believe the quote “I’m Sorry” as the new leadership trait. Years ago it was seen as weak/feckless to admit one’s “Sorryness”, and in many cases you were ostracized and never to be heard from again. Then someone (probably an overpaid “PR Expert”) came up with the thought that showing more humility and transparency will elicit compassion and sympathy from the observer…..if manipulated just right. I’ve argued at length that there needs to be more “Humility” portrayed by our so-called “leaders” and I’m not wavering from that opinion, however, along with everyone else I’ve been duped by the con artists who have used “Humility” as a strategic manipulating tool. We’ve now become too accepting of the “I’m Sorry” excuse when most of us in similar situations would be tossed out on our ear. Using Roger Goodell as the most recent example, I’m not sure I agree with most in throwing him out of office I do however think the room for job failure has drastically shrunk. In corporate America they call it “PIP” (Performance Improvement Plan), the last stage before terminating someone’s employment and perhaps placing Goodell on that tightrope should be the corrective action. Now, I absolutely understand the argument and have raised it earlier regarding the gazillion dollar salaries these folks command and because of that they should pay the severest consequences….but will that prevent future “Sorryness”?


That is a correct statement and has to be treated as fact, but at what point do we NOT accept that as an excuse? Does your job matter? Do you have to make a certain salary? Does you ethnicity matter? (yes, that has to be thrown in). It’s a good question at determining how much rope we should provide someone who missed a blown call in the Super Bowl, or, the CEO who’s made the worst decision in sports history. Believe me I’m not that smart that I have the answer, I can say however that “Competencies” should matter. We ALL should question those placed in positions of significant leadership their developed “Competencies”, when YOU interview for a high level position aren’t you measured from the same abilities? Examining one’s true competencies I’ll admit is complex because it’s not always based on someone’s experience or specified skills…..especially when faced with an unexpected “CRISIS”. I have seen shockingly how some people handle a “CRISIS” superbly and not have a lick of experience or learned competency in their past versus those that supposedly have fail miserably at handling “CRISIS”. So, I’m not sure if there’s a “CRISIS APTITUDE GENE” (haha!!) that exists I’ll leave that up to the “Eggheads” to figure out, but certainly some have more ability in that space than others.

The important point here is we have to be careful that the “STANDARDS OF EXCELLENCE” not be lowered for our “Leaders” and importantly for ourselves. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with admitting you’re “Sorry” and there’s a sense of admiration that comes with that “Humility”, but, when used in a manipulating and strategic manner that’s when our tolerance should run thin.


When did “I’M SORRY”…become a leadership trait?



Check out my presentation on “ACCOUNTABLE”/”PERSONAL” LEADERSHIP: http://www.slideshare.net/aharrell2000/l-33287676


Andre’ Harrell

AH2 & Beyond Consulting




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