Sometimes as leaders we miss things – not meetings, but critical trends impacting our organisations. Sometimes we allocate our attention and resources to other things because we see them as more urgent or important than the other. This is normal, we are human after all.
Eventually, we arrive, late. Eventually, we get to the place others have been for a long time, sometimes years. What we do when we arrive is just as important as finally arriving. When we arrive there are three things we owe to those who have been engaged previously:
1. Gratitude. Thanks for being here already. It is important to articulate the acknowledgement that the others already present and have been for a long time.
2. Apology. Apologies for being late or not being able to be here till now. It is important to acknowledge that we realise we didn’t ‘hear’ or ‘see’ the importance of this space previously; that we missed it. We don’t need to give excuses or reason; a simple genuine apology will go a long way.
3. Vision. Explain how the future will be different from the past experience. Those who have been working at it previously, especially if it has been a long time, will be skeptical. There will be a sense of “we’ve been around this block 20 times already, what is going to be different this time?” The more concrete we can be here, the better.
What we shouldn’t do is none of the above and act as if things are normal and that there is no need to build trust.