Great Leaders Never Apologize!

The worst phrase in the English language is “I’m sorry.” Whenever I hear that, I feel sick to my stomach, especially when it’s uttered by someone in a position of authority.

Great leaders never apologize! Why? Because they never make mistakes. In fact, I remember when I was in business I was taught to never show emotion and never say sorry.

When you don’t do anything wrong, there’s nothing to say you’re sorry about. If something didn’t turn out right, then someone else messed up.

I once had a quarter with terrible earnings. Did I apologize to my shareholders and employees? No way! I made my employees realize who had messed up and caused us to lose money, made them apologize, and then fired them. I’m in charge and know everything, so there was no reason for me to apologize.

Apologizing makes you seem weak and cowardly in front of your employees and customers. Remember, you are the boss. Your apology doesn’t change anything, but it can make you come across as someone who can be questioned and challenged.

Apologizing can also open a can of worms and often means you have to change your plan or strategy instead of sticking with something you know is right. You are the leader and the smartest person in the room — don’t let someone make you apologize for having a great idea! They should apologize for asking questions and not just going along with your plan.

People won’t always agree with you, but that’s because they don’t know as much as you do. Don’t back away from something just because others might think it’s wrong — they don’t know anything. Great leaders hold strong to their beliefs and don’t apologize.

Just look at some of the greatest leaders of all time, like Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, J.D. Rockefeller, and Cornelius Vanderbilt — they got things done because they were determined and stuck with their strong ideas. They didn’t bow down and apologize when things were hard or people disagreed with them.

Apologizing is for employees, not leaders. Employees make mistakes and need to apologize to you for wasting your time and doing things wrong. But you’re on top — there’s no reason for you to apologize to anyone.

“I’m sorry” is the worst thing you can say as a leader! Get those words out of your mouth and stop apologizing.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve had the privilege of speaking and working with some of the world’s top leaders. Here are 15 of the best leadership lessons that I learned from the CEOs of organizations like Netflix, Honeywell, Volvo, Best Buy, The Home Depot, and others. I hope they inspire you and give you things you can try in your work and life. Get the PDF here.



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Jacob Morgan

4x Best-Selling Author, Speaker, & Futurist. Founder of Exploring Leadership, Employee Experience, & The Future of Work