What is the strategy for communicating mistakes within your organisation? When something goes wrong, do your leaders make themselves accountable, stop the buck at their feet and invite questions?

I don’t usually offer any political points of view and don’t intend to start, but felt I had to comment as the internet is currently awash with a film of Nick Clegg apologising via YouTube. The original film was a party political broadcast where the Lib Dem Leader says sorry and admits that a manifesto pledge to vote against increasing tuition fees was ‘mistaken’. The film itself is entitled ‘no easy way to say this’.

Clegg says in it: “When you’ve made a mistake, you should apologise. But more importantly – most important of all – you’ve got to learn from your mistakes. And that’s what we will do”.

In true 2012 tradition, a spoof auto tuned version has appeared online where he sings the apology. I’m sure many more will appear in the coming days, but I digress…

What is your take on the film (the original one)? Do you think it was a good idea? What would you have advised? Do you think it’s a success? I’ve canvassed views from other internal comms pros, who have said this:

  • Nick Clegg may as well have stuck a ‘kick me’ sign on his own back @richarddennison
  • Saying sorry is ok but deliberately slow pace and ‘when we get things right we hold our heads high’ made it feel like spin @siobhanroddis
  • Clegg understands the importance of rebuilding trust and in another era, he might well have succeeded and been commended for his candour. At a time when trust in both leaders and politicians is at an all-time low, his admission is likely to be seen as a sign of weakness and backsliding @markjohnapplin
  • A leader willing to acknowledge a mistake and apologise in an authentic manner demonstrates respect for their people. It takes a level of inner strength to do this seldom seen in this day and age. We have high expectations of our leaders, and rightly so. Mistakes should be the exception and must be learned from @EngagementAG
  • Terrible. He should have done it when they bought the policy in. Why release it now? Just dredges it up again. Also, his comms people should have watched the Gordon Brown ‘smile’ video as a reminder before making this sort of thing… @mark_n_d

What do you think? I’d love to know your take on having leaders apologise in this way. Feel free to comment below, Rachel

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