Is "SORRY" really the hardest word?

I love my football, I love my Carlton Football Club, and my mood on the days they play, effectively mirrors the way the team plays. I understand it is a game, but it is a release, an escape if you will. It is a great leveler, CEO’s and Parliamentarians and truck drivers and people without a job, pensioners and students are all the same. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you are personally invested (not so much financially) in some way. The ramifications of those 22 players (AFL team) has on your general state of mind (and voice) is amazing.

The highs you get from a victory, those devastating lows from a defeat, and the constant analysis of your team, where they are now v where they should be, is all consuming.

My team broke my heart this week. Its not like I’m not used to them losing.. however it was the way they lost that was disappointing. There was an obvious plan. It just didn’t work. Plain and simple. Bottom line my team got killed.

Understandably the team got criticised heavily from all corners. However, the coach responsibly said and not to quote but… “we got it wrong. The game plan didn’t work.”

Hopefully, they’ll learn from it and get better from here.

How many of us are strong enough to draw the line in the sand when things aren’t working out. Stand up to your critics (internal and external) and say.. “Yep, that was my mistake. It was a bad call. We tried but it didn’t work. We’ll learn from it, put some more plans in place and continue to get better!”

Admitting to a mistake is the ideal time to make some changes, to gain buy in, and to deliver something. The buy in is normally there because when you make a mistake in the Recruitment world, it has business impacts and the business will want to help you achieve results to help them achieve.

I was once at a Management weekend away, and somehow got myself in the spotlight. It became obvious to all that the theme for the first day was “How Recruitment is ruining our business!” FUN! as I was the only Recruitment person in the room. It was a tough day, the toughest one in my career actually.

Turning up the next day, dragging my sorry behind to the first session, felt like a death march to me, I couldn’t be late, but I couldn’t seem to make myself walk forward. One of the Directors at the time sidled up next to me and asked me how I was doing?

“Honestly? I feel really really bad” Said I
“Really? why? drink too much last night?”
“Nope, yesterday felt like a whole day just attacking me, and I’m not sure how today is going to go.”
“Well”, said the Director “The bad news is that you were right. However the good news is that you were right! If the Executive didn’t think you had what it took to deliver, quite simply you wouldn’t be here. You have the opportunity now to implement all those plans we’ve spoken about, to give solutions. They want you to achieve, you just need to now tell them how you are going to. They will afford you the tools and resources. now you can do it.”

I have to say one of the more powerful little walks I’ve ever had. Liberating if you will, and it turned into a really high level of activity and success for the Recruitment team and the business.

I had to stand up and say essentially OK, what we have been doing isn’t working. As the Manager, I’ll accept responsibility and this is how we solve it.

I’ve heard a lot, people saying don’t apologise, it shows weakness. I really don’t agree, I think it shows strength. It is easy to deflect blame and raise your hands saying.. “it wasn’t me, not my fault etc”, it is way tougher, to stand up straight, hold your head high and say “Yeah, it was a mistake, my mistake. I’m sorry it happened, we’ll rectify this, learn from it and move ahead.”

Is apologising a sign of weakness? Admitting fault or blame a limiting thing for your career?

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Posted on May 24, 2009, in AFL, leadership, sorry, success. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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