The Courage in an Apology

I stumbled across this today and thought about the courage it took this CEO to not only publicly admit his failures to his staff but to actually apologize for them.

Martin Varsavsky, a self-described serial entrepreneur and CEO of Fon had this to say:

My only excuse really is that the life of an entrepreneur is one of trial and error, and in my quest to build great companies I have to give things a try, and sometimes I am dead wrong. And people lose their jobs because of that. And they have families, mortgages, plans, and they suffer.

So here it is: this is an apology to all of those I had to fire in my life because I screwed up, because I failed, because I was incompetent. I am really sorry.

The reality of the workplace is that people are hired and fired everyday. Some people fire themselves with continued poor performance and conduct and others are let go through no fault of their own. But in stating the latter has no fault, whose fault is it?

I admire Mr. Varsavsky for acknowledging who’s to blame for the releasing of these employees. It’s not easy to apologize. You have to rise above your own pride and your own failures to see how your conduct and experience affect others.

Unfortunately, it’s very rare to hear such candor from a CEO.

Mr. Varsavsky, although I’ve never met you, let alone worked for you, thank you. You have inspired more than just those to whom the apology was directed.