I’ve written about what to do when those you look up to let you down. With that numerous requests have come in asking what one should say to those he has let down. The incessant requests now push me to ignore my reluctance.
Mentors are people too. They’re not perfect. You will be let down by mentors and you will do the same to others. I have to remind you that mentors are not the only ones that can let people down. I, as a husband, sometimes fail Ingrid. At other times the young leaders I lead get a raw deal.
My leadership is sometimes not worth my team and our cause. Sometimes I compromise vision for the sake of comfort. This is not just my story. It’s a story of many leaders, siblings, friends, parents etc.
What to say to and do for those you’ve let down:
It Was Me
Own it. Responsible people, and leaders at large must take responsibility for their actions. Sometimes those we lead fail because of our absence. Those who look up to us may not even be aware that our presence would’ve saved them the trouble. The responsible, right thing to do is own it.
Owning your part in the failure of those you lead must come with a clear apology. Apologize not just for the sake of your conscious but also for the sake of the ones you let down.
Apologizing communicates the value you place and respect you place on those you’re apologizing to. “I’m sorry” is necessary and powerful relationship cement.
Apologizing may not right all wrongs per se, but an acknowledgement of wrong in the past and a commitment to right things going forward.
Do The Work
Commit and follow through with necessary actions. Apologizing must not replace retribution of sort, where possible. Do something about the wrong you’ve done. Need I say more?
How Did I?
It is possible to let people down without realizing it. When they bring it to our attention we must retrace the steps of their disappointment in us. How did I let you down? Listen. Be present. Don’t listen to defend yourself. Listen to uplift those you let down.
Put others before you. Engage. Find out how exactly they were let down. Explore ways to prevent that in the future.
It is possible for you to let them people down several times. Be realistic about the possibility of letting him or her down in the future. However, work our ways of preventing that. Talk about what both of you need to do if it happens again.
You realize how highly esteemed you are when you let someone down. Never forget that you’ll always be a hero to someone else. One of the best ways to make right with someone you’ve let down is to be who they see you as. Don’t be who you are not. Strive to live up the expectations of those you’re a hero to.