Keys to Trust: Fairness

how to be a fair leader in a unique world

The Fair Comes In August

I remember my middle school math teacher use to reply to any students lament about something not being fair with “the fair comes in August.” Fairness is about playing by the rules. Fairness is being just, honest, and trustworthy.

Keys to Trust: Fairness - Being A Fair Leader In a Unique World

Leaders have a duty to be fair. Fairness does not mean the same thing as equal. Equal has to do with being the same. People are different and must be treated as unique beings. Being fair means taking different types of people and holding them to the same set of standards.

As a fair leader, you treat you team members uniquely, looking at their individual differences and needs. You wouldn’t hold an employee on their first day to the same standard as someone who has 20 years at the company. Although that would be treating them equally, it is not fair since the new employee most likely doesn’t know the rules they have to play by.

Reward Uniquely

You can’t reward equally to everyone on your team. Some people perform and others exist. When you go to reward someone, reward fairly. That means if a person is a consistent performer, reward. If someone is consistently average, motivate them. The two types don’t deserve equal treatment.

Since the Chicago Cubs just won the World Series, I’ll use baseball as an analogy. Imagine your the team manager Joe Maddon. A deep hit into right field is caught by the right fielder, you would not praise the pitcher as a result of the great catch to be equal just as you wouldn’t praise the 3rd baseman when the pitcher strikes out a batter. The positions have different roles, purposes, and rules to play by.

High performers are often belittled by “equal” treatment of less performing co-workers. I remember pushing hard to be a high performer and taking hit from the average people who always looked out for what was in it for themselves. Jealously often manifests itself in crusaders claiming things are unfair.

Recognition Is An Equal Opportunity

Everyone in your organization should have an equal opportunity to earn recognition. That doesn’t mean that you should hand out recognition just to be fair. Fairness means that you have to earn the recognition.

Play By The Rules

As a leader who is trying to build and maintain trust, you have to play by the rules. You also have to have the same rules for everyone, that’s just fair. For everyone to play by the rules, they have to know the rules. Have you clearly communicated the rules of the “game”?

Building Trust

Simply being fair doesn’t give you trust. Fairness is just one part of trust, but you’ll notice that many of the components are interlaced with each other in a woven web that builds upon each other. Fairness means you are transparent, have a commitment to trustworthiness, and you are an authentic person who is not trying to be something you’re not.

What About You?

Have you ever worked for a boss that you could never win with? I’m talking about someone who seemed to change the rules when you were at the finish line. If you have, you most likely understand the importance of fairness. Give people the benefit of the doubt and commit to running a better team.

Keys to Trust

This Week

Question: What will you do this week to add fairness to your team? You can leave a comment by clicking here.



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