Because the building of a trusting relationship takes time, it is not a one-time event. While we live in a society that is very unforgiving of mistakes, in order to build trust within an organization, it is more important to be authentic and human than it is to be perfect. When a mistake is made by a leader, it should be owned and acknowledged. Sometimes that acknowledgment needs to be made public; sometimes it needs to be private. The following quote is instructive in this regard:
Apologies can create the conditions for constructive change. An apology can also serve to strengthen an organization. Apologizing by admitting a mistake—to co-workers, employees, customers, clients, the public at large—tends to gain credibility and generate confidence in one’s leadership…To apologize is to comprehend and acknowledge one’s error, to act justly; it requires that the truth be told without minimizing or rationalizing the behavior. 1
Part of authenticity is being candid and transparent. However, leaders should selectively reveal their weaknesses since too much disclosure can be inappropriate in certain times and places. 2 In other words, it is possible to overdo this candor and undermine one’s trustworthiness.