Three Steps to Gracefully Rebound From Bad Behaviour

Three steps

Have you ever done or said something that you wish you could take back immediately?

I recently had a conversation with a leader who overreacted to an individual on her team, in front of her whole team. It was not pretty and she desperately wanted to take it back. Instead, she went into hiding and berated herself for her bad behaviour.

Later in the day when she was sharing her story with me, it was clear how emotionally charged she still was. It was shame and embarrassment mixed with a bit of anger. Her emotional state led her right into making excuses based on what her direct report did.

These are the moments, the moments when you get triggered, that are a true test of your character and your brand. It is so important to have clarity and be intentional about who you are to make the right choices in these moments. You are in charge of you and the choices you make for yourself.

Ask Yourself: Do I allow my circumstances to control me or do I control my circumstances?


As a leader, you need to role model what you expect from others. Defending and making excuses are not acceptable. You screwed up, now own it! Start by taking the following steps to mend the relationships that were impacted by your bad behaviour.

#1 Regain Your Composure

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.”                                                                                     Albert Einstein

You definitely want to take a step back and catch your breath. You can either request your team to take a fifteen-minute break or simply excuse yourself for five to ten minutes.

It is important first to breathe and allow your body to relax. Then disassociate yourself from the emotion to reduce the charge and ensure you don’t fall back into the same trap.

To disassociate yourself from the emotion you need to acknowledge the emotion; realizing it is an emotion you are having. Call it anger, although you are not the emotion. When you view the emotion as something you are feeling in this moment versus being ‘it’ you give yourself a better chance of responding to a situation instead of reacting to it.

#2 Respond Immediately

This is not a time to turn your back on your bad behaviour. Yes, you blew it although the truth is you can also fix it. Your team is going to talk about it regardless so let them tell the ‘whole’ story of your blow up AND how well you recovered. 

If you don’t step in to fix it immediately the story that gets spread is how you lost your temper and left everyone feeling awkward.

When you step up and take responsibility for your actions you demonstrate to your team how to learn from what you did, do what is necessary to repair it and move on!

It is one thing for a leader to tell their team members to do something; it is powerful when your team sees you act it out.

#3 Apologize

When you come back into the meeting room, apologize first to the individual who triggered your reaction. Next, apologize to the team. State your apology and stay away from making any excuses. 

If you see that everyone seems a bit uncomfortable ask if there is anything they need to talk about to get past it. If not, finish your meeting.

It takes a big person to say they are wrong and a bigger one to ask what they can do to make it better.

I would also recommend you set up a time to talk one-on-one with the person who triggered you and apologize privately for your reaction and take this time as an opportunity to set future expectations.

As a leader, you want to model what you want to see in others. When you go off track demonstrate how to recover gracefully and move on. Don’t dwell. This gives others permission to do the same.

Brand clarity mixed with intention and mindfulness is a formula for success.

Align yourself with what matters most to you. Live your brand fully expressed with intention and purpose to play bigger!

Are you interested in having a conversation to explore how you can define your personal brand and accelerate your growth as a leader, individually or as a team? Send an e-mail to book a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

Dorothy Lazovik

Dorothy is on a mission to shift the culture of organizations to people first! Supporting leaders in fulfilling their TO BE LIST to better deliver on their TO DO LIST. Doing the work impacts how leaders see themselves, the people they lead, the environment they create and the outcomes they achieve. Producing higher engagement, ownership and productivity. How would making a change like this elevate your business results?

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