Tag Archives: Social Intelligence

I Screwed Up …

“I screwed up. ” 

“I am truly sorry because I understand how my action affects you.”

  “Here’s how I will fix this or do better in the future.”

Not words we often hear from our leaders … The ability to acknowledge our shortcomings is in rare supply, at least in my experience.

I noticed recently that I am sharing a fair amount of posts around credibility, trust, and other ethical aspects of leadership.  I must not be the only person interested in this most critical part of being a leader.

Note the essential elements:

1. “I screwed up.”

Direct and clear admission of responsibility comes first.  Without this, everything which may follow is usually just damage control.

Add the details about how or what you screwed up.  NOT the justifications or reasons, just the complete actions and consequences of those actions.  No, we are not dwelling on the details ~ we are being transparent.

Timing is critical here.  Saying “I screwed up” after days or weeks of media hounding or whispered hallway discussions does not cut it.

Come clean quickly and completely.

2. “I am truly sorry because I understand how my action affects you.”

Next is your explanation about WHY you need to apologize.  Be specific and focus on what your actions or inactions have cost others.

Some may call this dwelling on the negative.  I call it acknowledging the consequences of what you have done.  Yes, it’s painful to spell out the pain, but pain left unstated hurts more than pain identified.

Be specific and clear in your statement.  Do not hide behind generalities or vague words.

Do  better than “I regret that I hurt my family” or “I feel the pain of the employees”.

3.  “Here’s how I will fix this or do better in the future.”

This is the part where we like to go, because it smacks of redemption and forgiveness.  We “are not here to talk about the past”, as some have said in recent memory.  When we talk about how much better things will be in the future, we are often just trying to sweep something yucky under the corporate carpet.

This part needs to be sincere, detailed, and with a caveat that the reputation and career of the person trying to do better is dependent on what actually happens.  It’s all about trust (or the lack thereof) at this point.

As much as those in pain would like to focus on tomorrow instead of today, we are still dealing with the dynamics of the event.  People do not magically forgive when we talk about how much better things will be.  People live in today – tomorrow may indeed be better, but we have to prove it first.

This part is not redemption  ~ it’s accountability.

What did I screw up about admitting I screwed up?

Feeling rather contrite, but hopeful for the future in the Heartland …


Will You Be My Friend …?


Becky Robinson tends to get my attention through her well-crafted and fascinating questions.

This week, she is asking whether we can truly have friends who we only know through social media.  This is a challenging question and one that tends to divide people dependent on their involvement in and experiences with different types and levels of social media. 

 Go to Becky Robinson Weaving Influence to read her question in full, along with some fascinating answers from some very intelligent folks.  Heck, you could even add your own thoughts to the comment stream.

While you’re there, subscribe to her blog if you want to receive more thoughtful and thought-provoking commentary on living in the social age.   She is one of the Good Ones.

Below is my somewhat abbreviated and edited response to Becky’s question.  Please feel free to praise or rebut as you so feel moved:

Hi, Becky

As usual, thought-provoking and a razor-like focus on the human side of social media and relationships.

My “friends” in social media are much like yours, a mixture of real-life and virtual, from long ago and right this instant, of varying degrees of communication, connection, and intimacy.

A friend is someone who you know enough about to trust.

I have a relatively small group of trusted advisors (like you:) who I respect for their talent, their knowledge, AND their willingness to share in this very ill-defined medium we spend so much time navigating.

I have a much large group of people I consider friends at the acquaintance level.  We “see” each other regularly or sporadically, we have some knowledge of each other, and our sharing is calculated. 

Then there are all the others.  I follow thousands on Twitter, for example, and many are just names.  On a somewhat regular basis, I cut the spammers and the inactive folks, but leave the rest there.

You never know when a name might become an acquaintance or an acquaintance become a friend or an advisor.

Trust is always the key element in where a person is in my little personal pantheon.

I tend to offer some level of trust easily and early in a relationship, then let events and actions determine whether that trust is strengthened, weakened, or blasted apart.

Regarding social media environments, I have had serious discussions with “heathens” (non-social media types) who believe that online relationships cannot be real.  I respectfully disagree.

I have been disappointed and even betrayed by people with whom I have had long, significant, face-to-face relationships and I have received wonderful blessings from people whose breath will never mix with mine over coffee.

Social media is simply one way to communicate and connect.  It has its limitations, but it also has its values.  For example, how else would many of us establish warm professional relationships with people somewhere else, especially in this day of reduced travel funds and increasingly busy daily “grinds”?

An interesting side observation:  I trust some online relatively recent relationships more than some relationships which are long-term and on the same turf.

Bottom line for me:  Trust determines the level of relationship and lack of physical proximity is not a deal-breaker.

Wondering who considers me one of their virtual friends in the Heartland ….