Servant leaders can enhance their relationships by choosing to model the behaviors of love outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. The sixth behavior mentioned is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is giving up resentment when wronged. It is the divinely given ability to change the history of your attitude toward an event.

Servant leaders know and understand that nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and having empathy for the fallibility of the human condition leads to a positive, compassionate confrontation and healing through forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the most important gift a leader can give to the people for whom he or she is responsible. Forgiveness offers people the chance to take risks, to learn and to grow in their own leadership within the organization. It will promote innovation and growth.

I am firmly convinced that nobody comes into work with the intent to make mistakes and mess things up. I believe that everyone at their core wants to do a good job for the organization they work for. It is therefore very important for leaders to openly extend forgiveness when mistakes happen.

Think about the opposite of forgiveness. If leaders held grudges against people and could not get over issues that happen in the workplace, employees will begin to resent their leaders as not understanding their challenges and it will lead to a severe lack of trust.

Servant leaders must also be able to forgive themselves. This may be the hardest of all. The foolish things we have done, the mistakes we have made, and the failures of yesterday haunt all of us. Our ability to lead is directly proportional to our ability to forgive ourselves and risk our own failure again.

Asking for forgiveness is every bit as important as granting forgiveness.  It is the most basic act of humility.  Asking for forgiveness is admitting you were wrong and asking for a fresh start. It takes boldness and courage to ask for forgiveness. How bold are you as a leader? Are you bold enough to say, “I was wrong, will you forgive me?” I’ll guarantee it will go a long way in the development of your relationships with your people!

Mark Deterding