When Chris Grayling said sorry (twice) last week it made the news. It is a rare thing to hear a politician apologise and it was right that the Secretary of State for Transport expressed regret for the rail disruption that took place over the summer affecting thousands of travellers.
CEOs do not have great form on this front either. Could it be that the qualities demanded of leadership, such as intense forensic focus and supreme self-belief, militate against the expression of concern and remorse?
Apologising and saying you got things wrong is humanising and real. More politicians and business people should acknowledge this. Life is complicated and chock-full of snafus, but the important thing is to acknowledge them when they happen, learn from them and make sure they don’t happen again.
A new campaign was launched towards the end of last year designed to make it easier for businesses to behave with compassion when things go wrong. The organisers of the campaign suggest that in some instances the legal and insurance professions directly or implicitly discourage the expression of regret through understandable fear of legal ramifications and costly compensation or negligence claims.
As more companies and politicians try to re-connect with a disaffected and disillusioned public, we need to re-think this and adopt a less procedural, more ‘do the right thing’ approach. This is not about going soft or capitulating to public opinion but listening and responding. Being decent will always be the best commercial or political decision.
We have just been asked to join the Apology Clause campaign and we’ll do so gladly.
Jo Lloyd is the managing director at Camargue