Apologizing for a mistake builds a leader’s credibility, deepens trust and relationships with the team and creates a culture of caring and accountability, writes Terri Klass. “Our colleagues will value our leadership if they feel we are willing to hold ourselves accountable for our actions and words,” Klass writes.



When was the last time you really messed up and kept kicking yourself for the misstep? I found myself in this situation during a meeting this past week. Some information seemed to just fall out of my mouth that I wished I hadn’t shared.

I definitely could have expressed my thoughts in a different and clearer way, but no, the message was blurted out. The minute the words flowed, I knew I had misspoken and wished I could have hit the “Unsend” button. It happens, and when it does, we go into a tailspin. What came next was my inner critic lobbying out some chastising comments:

“What was I thinking?”

“Did it actually come out as bad as I thought?”

“There was some humor in my voice so perhaps it wasn’t received in the same way I am feeling.”

“What should I do now to make amends?”

At one time or another, probably several times a week, leaders find themselves sitting with emails, texts and face-to-face conversations that they wished they could redo. We’re human after all which means we are quite imperfect. Sometimes leaders make matters worse by pretending they didn’t say what they said, hoping it will be forgotten.

Other times we convince ourselves that the words weren’t that “bad”. Eventually we come to the only conclusion we can and that is we absolutely need to apologize.

The Superpower of Leading With “I want to apologize”

1. Demonstrates We Are Authentic

In the moment leaders are able to apologize, they are revealing their vulnerable side. They are exposing a part of themselves that may feel uncomfortable but will ultimately showcase their authenticity. Being authentic is key to a leader being trusted and believed.