There is a fine line between holding subordinates accountable and punishing them. I spent much of my early career in leadership untroubled by this distinction, if not totally dismissive of it. Mercy has never come easily to me, and I was far too tardy in developing the quality.
Mercy is part and parcel of forgiveness. But is forgiveness an important quality in leadership? Yes, argues Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business Review. Is it cost free? Rarely. Can it come with risks? Invariably. But I agree it is the better way to go; we most always get the best out of those who know we respect and trust them. Drop the fear of being burned again (even though you will be) and forge ahead.