The Power of Being Fair To Others

May 12, 2019 0 Comments

By Dr. Paul L. Gerhardt, PhD

When leading an organization or any team including a considerable number of people, it is natural for the leader to get to know faces a bit more than the others. Even though there’s a good side to this (the leader is now interacting with his employees), it also creates a space for partiality to occur. By calling the same people to after-parties frequently, giving only few the desirable assignments, being friends with them on a personal level and many other actions, it is possible to create a feeling of unfairness among the employees. In order to be a good leader, a person must be just in their actions – it is these actions which determine the fate of the whole firm. It is always important to remember that, you may be the cause of problems in your team because of the way you carry yourself or how you have treated someone. Read this with an open-mind and be honest with yourself. Here are some of the best ways to maintain fairness among all your employees:

1.      Be honest with all the employees

When someone needs to be held accountable for their actions – oh but they also happen to be your good friend – then no, a leader cannot withhold the necessary feedback for that reason. This is a clear example of unfairness. All employees must be treated with the same amount of consideration. Everyone has to know how they did on their project, or everyone has to take the blame for not being able to finish the work within the deadline. Blaming just one person for the mistakes of the whole team is not right at all.  Give people the benefit of the doubt and assume the best of others. How you treat each person will have an effect on organizational climate.

2.      Rotate

It isn’t uncommon for the boss to take an employee for a meeting over lunch. However, doing this with the same person over and over again will only create discord among the others, who will see that their leader is playing favorites. Instead, it is far better to rotate the options and taking different people out each time. Remember that appearing to have favorite employees creates a sense of in-groups and out-groups. This makes the organization weaker in the longer-run. Make everyone feel genuinely valued all the time.

3.      Give everyone a chance

This has got to be the action which most leaders don’t exactly see as being unfair. Usually, an employee who has proved themselves in the past is the one to get the better and more desired assignments, whereas everyone else gets the ordinary ones. This of course is natural. However, do keep tabs on your other workers too. Is there someone who has been performing very well lately with tasks being given to them? Well then, maybe it’s time to give them a chance with the baton now too. Likewise, when people are falling short of meeting expectations, do not wait to beat them up during the evaluation time, coach employees to be successful Praise good work when you see it. Chances are, you will get more people trying harder to do things right and exceptionally well.

4.      Keep work relationships professional

It is very unwise for a leader to have close personal friends in the workplace. When we know someone outside of work, it is simply human instinct to lean to them first in the office. Thus, a leader will almost always be inclined to call on the person they know on a personal basis first. It is much better to keep these interactions to a minimum, or at least try to not bring personal life into work. Always be friendly to every person on your team. Being friendly does not mean being best friends. People must know you are in charge and not be given reason to violate workplace dynamics. Being friendly helps keep the organizational climate friendly. The leader has the biggest impact—both positive and negative. If the climate is negative, chances are you may have caused it and need to find ways to be transparent, more friendly, and approachable. Thinking win-win in every interaction will help you transform your team culture. You have to give trust in order to get trust and relationships are fragile. Treat them each that way with utmost respect first and always.
 A leader’s qualities are marked based upon a large range of features; honesty, patience, compassion, and of course fairness. An unfair leader will be greatly disliked by their workforce, and will eventually need to change their ways in order to save the company. By following the 4 steps above, it is very much possible to slowly do so. Think before you interact. When people are not giving their best or bring negativity to the workplace, it may be your fault.

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Dr. Paul Gerhardt is a tenured professor of management. He is a diversity and leadership well-respected and trusted trainer who helps organizations get amazing returns on investment. Dr. Gerhardt is the author of several publications available on, including Diversity at Work, The Diversity King; Leadership Lucy and the new upcoming Leadership Handbook. Consider inviting Dr. Paul Gerhardt to do customized leadership or diversity training at your organization. Most organizations find that diversity and leadership training by the right trainer yields a significant instant return on investment. You can get your FREE COPY of the Leadership Handbook by clicking this link:
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