Forgiveness at work
People are victimized all the time. Some people are so affected by this that they can no longer lead productive lives. Their pain, their feelings of helplessness, or their need for revenge overpower their ability to carry on with life. Some do overcome, however, and while they attest to things never being as they once were, they find a way to carry on, feel joy and love, trust others, and lead a productive life. Many major studies find the most common thread in those who are able to carry on is the ability to forgive.
It is important that we leaders manage to find a way to forgive people who don’t perform well in the workplace. In the case of the people we lead, we are almost always at least partially to blame when someone on our team disappoints. Yet I come across leaders all the time who cannot trust their team enough to let go and allow people to make some meaningful decisions on their own or give them some autonomy over how things will be done. These are people who when asked about why they micro-manage, point to times in their past when people on their team have disappointed them, when the job did not get done, and when they have been made to look like a fool by someone else’s performance. They simply won’t let it happen again.
In my experience:
- delegating tasks and certain decisions to the right people;
- communicating your expectations clearly;
- training people to do the task or make the required decisions;
- making sure that sufficient time and resources are available; and
- providing the right amount of support and guidance
are the ways to engage and grow your team members as well as yourself. To get anywhere with this, you will need to forgive yourself when mistakes are made by your team. After all, most of them will be your mistakes in one of the areas I outlined above. Whether the mistakes are yours or theirs, if you cannot forgive, you are going to limit yourself as a leader. If you see this problem in yourself, I suggest you take a serious look into the world of forgiveness. Also, know that forgiving does not mean not holding people accountable for their actions. Forgiveness actually helps you be more fair in the process of accountability. You will be fair instead of seeking revenge or punishment as you explain to people where they fell short and far less likely to do serious harm in the process of correcting mistakes or misconduct.
Embrace forgiveness, not just for the sake of your team and your leadership, but for the sake of your friends and family and, in the end, your own personal well-being.
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