By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.
Have you ever been late to a meeting and blamed it on the traffic? I sure have! I’ve blamed my tardiness on the traffic, having the wrong time in my calendar, the wrong location, difficulty finding a parking place, I lost track of time, to name a few. The fact is, I should have departed sooner, confirmed the time, confirmed the location, planned for parking, kept track of time, etc. I should have been more diligent. Blaming the situation or another person for my lack of performance tells the other person or persons that they weren’t important enough for me to have behaved in a more responsible, more professional manner. Making excuses is hardly an effective leadership strategy.
There are also those who blame their character defects when they screw up. Their excuses sound like this: I’m always late; I always put things off to the last minute; I’m terrible at time management. These character flaws are used to excuse inexcusable behavior.
Direct reports and other organizational member do not utilize the quality of the excuse as a benchmark when evaluating leadership. Making excuses diminishes leadership effectiveness.
When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and simply state “I’m sorry.” That’s what effective leaders do.