Accusations of Louis C.K.’s Sexual Misconduct are True

Five women accused comedian Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct. He’s the latest in a recent avalanche of accusations that began in October with Harvey Weinstein.

Louis said, “These stories are true.”

Louis’ apology has two high points.

Own it:

Owning failure is courageous and honorable. I’m not saying that confession is justification. Consequences, depending on the severity of our wrongs, still apply.

  • I wasn’t clear.
  • I lied.
  • I took the money.
  • I didn’t follow through.
  • I lost my temper.

Reject excuses when someone points out a wrong. Don’t blame. Let’s hope your failures aren’t as harmful as Louis C.K.’s. But it doesn’t matter. Own failure with humility and courage.

When I hear leaders confess shortcoming or failure, I have hope. Taking responsibility is the first step toward improvement and success. But my heart sinks when excuse-making sets in.

At the beginning, owning failure is easy. But letting yourself off the hook by finding fault or making excuses seduces many.

Your choices and behaviors aren’t someone else’s fault.

Louis C.K. might say, “I masturbated in front of women.” But it would be wrong to add, “They wore sexy clothes.”

On a lesser scale, you might say, “I didn’t follow through.” It would be wrong to add, “I was busy.”

Power:

Louis C.K. said, “The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly… my position allowed me not to think about it.”

Power distorts perception.

Powerful people tend toward*:

  1. Less empathy.
  2. Personal exemption and excuse-making.
  3. Impulsive behavior.
  4. Rudeness.

*The Power Paradox, by Dacher Keltner.

Power makes us feel we are better than others.

The behaviors employed to earn power are lost when you have power. Owning failure helps answer the distortion of power.

How might leaders own failure and shortcoming?

How might leaders address the distortion that comes with having power?