How to Connect Forgiveness and Accountability
Forgiveness determines the breadth, depth, and duration of all relationships.
People disappoint. The more you expect from others the more likely you’ll feel disappointed.
Don’t lower expectations. Elevate forgiveness.
Leaders who can’t forgive pull away and close down. You become angry, bitter, even vengeful. Unforgiveness eventually becomes, “I’ll make them pay.” But, often they can’t pay. In those cases, unforgiveness is making people suffer for something they can’t fix.
Leaders who don’t forgive rule with fear.
Accountability and forgiveness:
Second chances require forgiveness with accountability.
Forgiveness is starting again with clear expectations.
- What needs to be in place to prevent future disappointments? Closer supervision. Frequent milestones. Elevated transparency.
- Make it right. If your manager blew up at their team, expect them to acknowledge their temper and work on their anger.
- Explore what went wrong with the future in mind. Ask, “If this project fails in the future, what was left undone?”
- Declare expectations in behavioral terms. Ask, “When you do this next time, what will you do?”
Forgiveness says people matter.
Unforgiveness is letting the past control the present.
- Forgiveness rises above fairness.
- Forgiveness is freedom, mostly for you.
- Forgiveness is a line in the sand that says, “Let’s start over.”
- Forgiveness is a process not an event.
- Forgiveness and learning from mistakes go hand in hand.
Expect results. Forgive failures. Enable progress.
- They don’t know you’re disappointed. Someone disappointed you, but you were afraid to speak up. Let it go. Speak up next time.
- You’re unapproachable. Issues escalate when people are afraid to speak up.
- They fell short because you didn’t clearly explain what you wanted. Clarify expectations next time.
- Clocks can’t be turned back. Words and behaviors can’t be unsaid or undone.
Success always requires next time.
How can leaders integrate forgiveness into their leadership?
What makes you uncomfortable about leadership and forgiveness?
Understanding people are human and not programmed machines.
Expect mistakes and nurture the individual with teaching.
Explain what you expect and work with them not over them.
Thanks Tim. Work with not over. That feels like compassionate leadership to me. Have a great week.
Awesome post Dan! Excellent message to share. Thank you.
But what can you do if you keep ‘drawing a line in the sand’ and they keep crossing it?
Thanks Sally. Great question and one that is closely connected to any conversation about forgiveness.
Here are three idea when they keep crossing the line:
Remeditate: training, systems of accountability
Re-assign: give them a different job
Remove: If they can’t or won’t deliver results, help them find new employment.
My first thought when reading your three ideas was that you should have expanded a bit on each.
I recall someone once saying that the tendency of many leaders is to discipline subordinates who “can’t” do something and send those who “won’t” off to training – when in fact the opposite should be applied.
Seek to understand the reasons why people keep crossing the line, but ensure your response is appropriate to the circumstances.
I had a boss who said – seek resolution, not blame. It helped us all contribute to make the environment better, and fostered honesty
Love it. Thanks billgncs.
Forgiveness is letting go of the anger, not the goal. So Sally, drawing a line in the sand is a metaphor for creating some goal or mile stone. Remember, you drew the line in sand, not bronze. If the person you delegated to misses their goal, I would be curious to know if the person does not have the ability or the willingness. Too often we assume missed assignments are lack of motivation and we don’t get to the root of the breakdown. For more on this, see Blanchard’s “Situational Leadership” or Vital Smarts “Influencer.” Forgiveness is simply refusing to take it personally (Ruiz, “The 4 Agreements).
Thanks cowsaretheanser. You bring up such an important point. We are responsible to deliver results for our organizations. Forgiveness isn’t letting go of results. It’s a path to achieving them over the long-term.
I connected with the line about speaking up when someone disappointed me. It’s funny how we always expect people to be mind readers. Somehow we think they know what we expect from then.
The reality is that unless we have a clear document that specifically states what we want, we are just creating a story full of assumptions.
Thanks Crazy. I find that some leadership frustrations are the result of not speaking up or lack of clarity when we do speak up.
Tell me about it, I just committed that blunder this weekend.
Great post Dan,
Due to my dysfunctional religious upbringing, in part I was a messed up.
Now as an adult with the ability to think and choose toe, life is much better.
The misunderstanding about forgiveness I was taught as a child is much different than how I understand it today.
Basically the state of in forgiveness is resensing, takes me out of the present moment where all the cool new exciting stuff is unfolding.
My point is people can integrate forgiveness when they understand it to answer ur question Dan.
Neuroscience and Quantum physics show now is the place to keep ones focus.
Nothing about forgiveness makes me uncomfortable, except not thinking it.
Since others brains work just like mine figure it is the same for everyone.
Know thyself, act accordingly.
Thanks Scott. Yes… forgiveness is one way to stay in the present rather than letting the past control us. Cheers
Great post… having that forgiveness and healing mindset is so key to building the trust that a team needs for everyone to feel comfortable speaking up. My organization has been dealing with the fall-out from a massive ethics investigation for the past 4 years, and as rightfully disappointed as many are, anger, blame and violent communication have made things so much worse. In the wise words of Elizabeth I, “the past cannot be cured.”
What if the manipulator uses your forgiveness to manipulate your feelings? Can you forgive someone if you lose all respect for that person? If you feel nothing … anger, happiness, whatever the feelings, does one have the capacity to forgive?
I really like this post Dan. It is a good way to not crush the spirit or stomp out the creativity of those wanting to do well.
The power of forgiveness… it’s a life changer that sets people free to encounter the best that life has to offer. There are hidden blessings within forgiveness only experienced when we truly forgive or are truly forgiven, which are healing and restoration at the innermost part of us. There are multitudes of psychology books that could be replaced by this one simple universal truth.
I think I would have something really deep and of value to add here if I hadn’t just had a powerful margarita at the Vegas airport. Next leg of the flight might be eventful.
(Damn, I just had to make like 18 corrections to just 2 sentences. Autocorrect can’t help the tipsy)
I love the quote on the image: ‘Don’t lower expectations. Elevate forgiveness.’
Like some of the others mentioned, I’ve also had a great deal of misleading teaching/training on the topic of forgiveness growing up. More pressure was put on me to forgive things (and before I was truly ready) and I was treated as if I was the one who had done something wrong instead of the one who was doing the wrong.
That was the biggest issue and stumbling block for me when it comes to the topic of forgiveness. When forgiveness is EXPECTED yet without any true change in behavior.
And that, in my opinion, is the crux of the forgiveness issue in general in our society. The forgiveness WITHOUT any true repentance issue. The true repentance (change in behavior) is the missing link in steps to forgiveness.
That’s why I really liked what you mentioned in #1 and #4: What needs to be in place to prevent future disappointments? Declare expectations in behavioral terms. Ask, “When you do this next time, what will you do?”
On the section: About Forgiveness –
#3 stood out to me the most: Forgiveness is a line in the sand that says, “Let’s start over.”
In my heart, in MOST cases throughout my life, I was always willing to start over. In most cases, I was dealing with someone who didn’t want to admit they did anything wrong and were more then happy to start over if we pretended like nothing happened. (which is supposed to come AFTER ‘what happened’ is dealt with..important here especially depending on the GRAVITY of the offense.. some are not minor things)
Truth spoken right here in a big way when you said: ‘Forgiveness is a process. Not an event.’
On Forgiveness Issues;
#1 is another BIG one. I’ve been on the tail end of this one at various times in my life, even fairly recently. Someone has a beef with me except they don’t ever share what it is that I’ve done. How I’ve caused offense, etc. If I’m AWARE that I’ve done something wrong to someone, I have NO PROBLEM making amends. None whatsoever. However, if I don’t KNOW that I’ve offended someone? They might have to wait until hell freezes over for an apology if they don’t actually tell me what it is I’ve supposedly DONE! haha (seriously!)
People aren’t very good with honesty. In fact, it was just a month or two ago I caught wind of someone who was ‘offended’ in some way but I had no clue as to WHY. So I did what any mature adult would do…I made direct contact with them and asked. They refused to tell me and in fact, were offended because I asked! Treated me with complete disdain and that was the end of that.
To this day I STILL have no clue why the person was upset or offended.
When it comes to situations like that, I refuse to be controlled by someone elses inability to be honest. At that point, I considered it their problem and no longer mine. I tried and that was enough.
And if a boss, friend, co-worker, love, or anyone who knows me is disappointed or upset with me, I DO expect and want to know about it. It doesn’t mean that I will feel the need to take responsibility 100% of the time for what someone else feels (I don’t really control that), but if there is something that I can do to make relations better, of course, I want to do what I can within reason.
How can leaders integrate forgiveness into their leadership? Consider how the work environment contributed to the mistake, look beyond personal blame.
Forget and forgive is the best policy. At the same time if it is combined with proper analysis and guidance time will come when you may not be required to forgive again and again. Human beings are all bound to be different and we need to align our expectations accordingly. The bar can be raised as we go along so that there is no disappointment .
Hmmm… plenty of comments on the value of forgiveness… BUT not one comment (from Dan – or all commenters) on HOW to Forgive.
It took me several years to learn the 3 step process involved. Once I finally did, the process of forgiveness finally became a powerful tool at my disposal…
To hold a grudge, a grievance, a wrong is to create an energy black hole that depletes one’s resources. Energy is the capacity to do work. No forgiveness. No energy. No work.
When I read the “SmartBrief on Leadership” I received and look on one of the titles which is
” Why the best leaders forgive after being disappointed ” I said in myself that the person who wrote the article could be of the same basic education, because forgiveness is a matter of family education.
In fact I was moderating a session at a Rotary District Conference on Sunday 6 April 2014. The session was entitled “Partnership for Peace” with famous panellists from UN-ESCWA, UNESCO, Dean of UN Representatives and attended by almost 200 Rotarians.
I began my welcome address by an invocation, just to be and let all people be in peace with themselves, asking them to read it along with me and then to stand up and shake hands with the neighbours. Should I describe the impact?
A win-win relation is a to-apologize-to-forgive .
Below is the invocation:
I am sharing it with all.
“God Please help me! I would like to apologize for every offence I committed in my thoughts, my words, my writings and my actions. I would like to assure to anyone who believes in the fellowship principle and in the motto “ Service above Self” that I will share Rotary as way of life, where I commit myself to serve others, to respect the right and to preserve human dignity.
I also consider Rotary as a way to realize consensus by consulting the group. I believe that the principles and ethics of Rotary give space to different perspectives but do not allow hostility between Rotarians and between citizen of one people, of even between peoples believing in peace and seeking to achieve it.
I would like also to forgive anyone who offended me in his thoughts, his words, his writings and his actions. I give my hand to peace, to anyone of us, present or not. ”
By Michel P. Jazzar, at Session VIII, “Partnership for Peace”, 1st D2452 Conference, Beirut, Lebanon, 6 April 2014.
It helps to remind oneself, periodically, that we are all works in progress – imperfections and all.
Excellent, deep reflection !! Thanks