Forgiveness as a Tool:
There are two ways of using this tool of forgiveness. The first is obvious. When you mess up, and you will mess up, you need to ask others to forgive you. That’s it, no more.
I am talking about the matter-of-fact need to self-recognize your error, ask others to forgive you, and then move forward, continuing as the leader. I’ve snapped at an employee or responded in an improper manner to someone because I was angry with someone or myself.
Early in my career I was managing a group of technical experts. Leaning to my analytical side, I got very involved in a new system adaptation we were installing. I showed up early one morning, reviewed all the changes and balanced the system statistics. That sounds impressive except that we had a person serving in a technical role to do that. You can imagine how she interpreted my actions. For days I wondered what her problem was. A friend enlightened me. Thank goodness for real friends at work.
I went to this individual and apologized. I asked her to forgive me for being over zealous in my attempt to learn. I didn’t consider her role or her feelings in a proactive manner. That was wrong. I wanted to be able to start fresh from here in our relationship and not let my error affect what could be and should be. She appreciated this and was as committed as I was to working together in the best manner we knew.