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OSU Leadership Center

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


The Art of Apology

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By:Beth Flynn, Tuesday, February 05th, 2019

"When you are a leader, most things that go wrong are not directly your fault, but they are always your responsibility. The art of apology can make the difference between lost trust and ruined reputations.

  1. Be personal. Assume personal responsibility rather than simply act as a spokesperson for the institution you represent.
  2. Be focused. Address specific acts or mistakes as well as impacted parties, so it is clear that you understand the ramifications of what went wrong.
  3. Be genuine. Convey in both words and tone honest remorse and atonement for mistakes made and any resulting damage caused.
  4. Make no excuses. Avoid shifting blame, minimizing harm, or whitewashing a bad situation.
  5. Act swiftly. The sooner an apology is given, the better the chance the apology will be accepted by those who count.
  6. Be comprehensive. Get all the facts out, admit all known shortcomings, and clearly articulate what has yet to be determined.
  7. Prevent recurrences. Articulate an action plan to correct what went wrong and to make sure the same problem doesn't recur (p. 70-72)."

Please share a time when you needed to apologize and how you went about making the apology.

From: Botelho, E. L; & Powell, K.R. (2018).  The ceo next door: the four behaviors that transform ordinary people into world-class leaders.  New York: Currency

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 9:12am -- Beth Flynn

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