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Apologizing in public is not easy, especially for leaders. They are heroes when things go right –and scapegoats when things go wrong.

Since reading Beards for Bucks’ apologies of a councillor, our mayor, our MPP, and our MP, I googled how to make a proper apology, especially for politicians, because in my opinion, all these apologies fell short.

“People speak of “a simple apology,” but there is no such thing. To acknowledge a transgression, seek forgiveness, and make things right is a complex act.” (Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2006/04/when-should-a-leader-apologize-and-when-not)

All of the apologies I’ve read so far are missing at least one of these key elements.
1. Clearly state what you did wrong, e.g. I apologize for not following Stage 2 protocols that prohibit services that tend to a customer’s face, such as facial hair grooming.
2. Accept responsibility for the mistake – Let us see the video so that we can judge for ourselves. Otherwise it looks like a cover up.
3. Express regret and acknowledge the impact of your actions: “I regret that not following Stage 2 protocols has disrespected haircare professionals.”
4. Promise the offense will not be repeated.

There is also a fifth step that should be included: make amends.

Show your constituents how you plan to do better. You could issue a full apology to all local salons and aestheticians. You could visit some of these small business owners and staff and privately apologize to them.

Or how about a do-over? Grow your beards again and this time, follow the provincial protocols. This would allow you to raise more money for PPE. Who knows, you might even raise more funds this time because this would show true leadership, acknowledge what was done wrong, and demonstrate to your constituents your willingness to make amends.

The pandemic has been stressful for us all. Let’s see if our leaders practise what they preach. Now’s the time to lead by example.

 Liz Zetlin
Owen Sound



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