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When to Seek Forgiveness as a Leader

Everyone makes mistakes, but for leaders, they can have big consequences for your company. To heal your relationship with employees, you need to know when to apologise. More importantly, you must be willing to admit that you’ve made a mistake.

I understand, it’s not easy to acknowledge that you’ve caused harm. But it’s critical for a supportive, loving company culture.

I would know—I’ve been in the position of needing to apologise myself. I was not always the supportive and empathetic leader I strive to be today. At one point, I had left a trail of fear, stress, and unforgiveness in my wake. And my team had not forgotten or forgiven.

To heal our relationship, there was one more step I needed to take: seeking forgiveness. I called a meeting, stood in front of my employees, and, in short, told them: “I am sorry to everyone. I know that I have caused you harm, and I want to do better.” After I had asked for forgiveness, I fulfilled my commitment by changing my behavior.

If you’ve harmed your employees in some way, apologising is critical to healing. Don’t assume you have their forgiveness just because you’ve changed your behavior. Embrace authenticity and humility, and be willing to say, “I’m sorry.” It’s the only way for you and your team to move forward.