5 Apologies Every Leader Owes Their Team

As a manager, there is something I need to admit. Sometimes I forget what it’s like to not be in a leadership position. I have memories of what that felt like. But they are memories, not daily actions. They are in my mind, but not top of mind. If I don’t remind myself of what it’s like to not be the one in control, I can make mistakes that impact the people I work with. For that, I owe them several apologies.

I apologize for thinking your job is easier than it is. Sometimes the “curse of knowledge” is to blame for this. Simply put, it means I used to do your job, did it well and it’s hard now to imagine why you might struggle with it. I likely don’t remember the questions I had when I was new on the job. To overcome this, I need to reflect on your job and break it down into the individual tasks required. This will help jog my memory of the difficulties. Just as importantly, I can’t afford to assume you have the context you need. I need to overexplain on the front end and create opportunities for questions along the way, that helps me tap into those memories and so I can better support you.

The other reason is different. Because of my leadership role, I tend to think about the bigger picture and the actions required at that level. This happens a lot with leaders. We set a vision and strategy. If we are strong, we spend time discussing how your role fits into both. But if I’m not careful, the complexity of the bigger picture in which I’m immersed makes your role seem comparatively easy. It is not easy. I need to remember that.

I apologize for neglecting your strong performance. My energy and attention are constantly pulled in multiple directions. Those directions often involve problems that need my support. Strong performers usually need less support. I’m grateful for that. But if you are a strong performer, it also means I’m giving you less attention and less energy. That can easily turn into neglect.

I need to remind myself what neglect means. I need to look it up in the dictionary where I will find the following definition: “n. that state of being uncared for.”

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