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Why Leaders Forgive After Being Disappointed

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April 2014
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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.

  1. What needs to be in place to prevent future disappointments? Closer supervision. Frequent milestones. Elevated transparency.
  2. Make it right. If your manager blew up at their team, expect them to acknowledge their temper and work on their anger.
  3. Explore what went wrong with the future in mind. Ask, “If this project fails in the future, what was left undone?”
  4. Declare expectations in behavioral terms. Ask, “When you do this next time, what will you do?”

Forgiveness says people matter.

About forgiveness:

Unforgiveness is letting the past control the present.

  1. Forgiveness rises above fairness.
  2. Forgiveness is freedom, mostly for you.
  3. Forgiveness is a line in the sand that says, “Let’s start over.”
  4. Forgiveness is a process not an event.
  5. Forgiveness and learning from mistakes go hand in hand.

Expect results. Forgive failures. Enable progress.

Forgiveness issues:

  1. They don’t know you’re disappointed. Someone disappointed you, but you were afraid to speak up. Let it go. Speak up next time.
  2. You’re unapproachable. Issues escalate when people are afraid to speak up.
  3. They fell short because you didn’t clearly explain what you wanted. Clarify expectations next time.
  4. 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?


For more about Leadship programs, check out Leadership Program on May 31st.


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