My daughter is starting to look at colleges. As we visit the campuses, we hear some reoccurring themes: “We Build Leaders”, “We Celebrate Diversity”, and “We Open Opportunities”. It got me thinking about some key qualities that leaders need to have to effectively relate to their teams. And with that, the Fox News slogan came to mind- a strong leader must be fair and balanced.
According to Dictionary.com, fair means free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice. To be a respected leader, you need to make unbiased decisions. You need to be honest with your team and yourself when making evaluations on projects, personnel, and behavior. Your decisions need to be just and forthright, ulterior motives need to be removed. Your actions must be ethically and morally right.
Keep in mind that fair does not mean equal. You need to treat each team member with respect and you must treat them justly. But you cannot treat them all equally. Each individual needs to be led differently based on their personality, goals, and career arc. High functioning employees need to be rewarded and lower functioning ones coached to better results.
I take balanced to mean impartial and without prejudice. As a leader, you must look at every situation with your eyes wide open. Having preconceived notions about a situation based on the types of people involved is a dangerous way to make decisions. An example of this would be making a hiring decision because “they seem like a good guy” instead of doing your due diligence in checking references, previous work places, and social media.
As a leader, you need to celebrate the diversity of your team and use their collective experiences to move your team and its projects forward. Ask for input and do not make fast judgements because their answers do not meet your initial ideas. Every person has gotten to their place differently, letting them express their views, and putting their paths in step with yours may make your journey easier.
New and experienced managers alike both struggle with the concept of fair and balanced. Too often, they rush their decisions to show people “who is the boss” and allow their personal prejudices to run their decision making. To distinguish yourself from the pack, make sure that keep your eyes, ears and heart open before making a key decision.