June 12, 2019
June 12, 2019
I believe one of the aspects of authentic leadership is taking accountability for when you have done something wrong. It starts by offering a real apology. Not a ‘plastic’ apology that normally sounds like “I’m sorry if anyone found my remarks offensive”. But rather, “I’m sorry for being offensive”.
In my latest book, Real Communication: How to be you and lead true, I discuss some high-profile cases when this didn’t happen. For example, the conduct of former Australian Cricket Captain, Steve Smith, after the ball tampering incident. Or the response from United Airlines after forcibly evicting Dr. David Dao from a flight. Their first statement apologised for overbooking but made no mention of Dao who was left with a concussion, a broken nose and two lost teeth.
Last week the Australian Football League and the 18 clubs issued a statement to coincide with the release of two documentaries on the racism Adam Goodes experienced during his final years of playing football.
Some people criticised the AFL for doing too little too late. But I believe it is an example of what I would call a ‘real’ apology. It included the following statements.
“Adam, who represents so much that is good and unique about our game, was subject to treatment that drove him from football. The game did not do enough to stand with him and call it out.”
“We apologise unreservedly for our failures during this period. Failure to call out racism and not standing up for one of our own let down all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players, past and present.”
It went on to outline a course of action.
“We pledge to continue to fight all forms of racism and discrimination, on and off the field.”
“We will stand strongly with all in the football community who experience racism or discrimination.”
“We will listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players and communities to learn about the impact of racism and in doing so, we will gain a deeper understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.”
“We will continue to work to ensure a safe and inclusive environment wherever our game is played. We are unified on this, and never want to see the mistakes of the past repeated.”
A real apology should take full accountability and outline a course of action to reduce the risk of it happening again …which is what the AFL apology contained. This is an example of real leadership.
You can read the full apology here.