Why The Best Leaders Never Treat Everyone The Same

man in thoughtBy Robin Stevens, Internal Operations Coach

Treating everyone “the same” is the opposite of treating everyone “fairly”. Treating everyone the same is the quickest way to lower the morale in your company.

People are not and never will be exactly the same and they are not you. They have different needs, performance levels, attitudes, work ethics and goals. When you honor this reality, you will honor each person for who they really are.

Some leaders struggle with the inability to engage in difficult conversations or deal with conflict. So instead they change policies and processes that affect the entire team instead of holding individuals accountable to their responsibilities.

Let’s say you have two team members out of ten who consistently fill out their paperwork incorrectly or don’t follow the new client process. Instead of dealing directly with those two team members you bring the entire team in for training. The team members who complete their invoices correctly will likely view this as unfair and have resentment towards you and those two team members.

By avoiding the difficult conversations you are doing a great injustice to your team. Your team is fully aware of the fact that these two people are still not completing their paperwork correctly. In the end, the unfair treatment could lead to lost productivity and a lack of motivation by solid performers. You must be consistent in holding team members accountable to the company’s policies and procedures no matter how big or small.

Some people say “choose your battles” or “I don’t lead by an iron fist”. These statement are just excuses/fear preventing you from handling difficult situations. You don’t have to be a bully to be a leader, but you do need to lead!

Letting small procedures slip eventually leads to bigger things slipping. Leading by fairness will create respect from both top performers and under performers. Everyone will know exactly where they stand, leading to team member confidence and motivation.

High morale is achieved when team members understand their roles and responsibilities, and they hold themselves accountable along with being held accountable by leadership. Trust builds in that space, and distrust builds when things are not addressed or paid attention to, especially by leadership.

Have the tough talks, treat people fairly, and be the leader your team needs you to be.


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