How to be fair as a leader  

New leaders must demonstrate fairness in dealings with people. People are unhappy when they perceive unfair treatment. Such unhappiness can lead to disengagement with the team’s mission.

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Yet, fairness is not about pleasing people.  It is about taking people along – even with unpopular decisions. To be fair, a leader must be:

Consultative Take inputs from all affected stakeholders.
Consistent Apply a consistent set of principles in a decision-making framework.
Transparent Provide visibility into the reasoning behind the outcome.

Drew’s company had invested in an expensive video-conferencing solution. The system had just not delivered on the promise. Costs of upgrades to get the system “finally working as promised” had cut into budget.

Drew saw good money going after bad money. He wanted to stop the waste. Yet, people kept telling him that system would deliver on its promise “after the next upgrade”.

Drew posed a question: “What can we do with the system today that we cannot do with available enterprise tools?” He met with people and brought up the topic in casual conversations. He kept an open mind as he heard them out.

Within a month, Drew had gathered enough data towards a decision. He invited people to comment on the information he had gathered and help him separate fact from fiction. He let it be known the decision he was contemplating while making it clear that he had not yet reached a decision.

People got a chance to review the data and weigh in with their inputs.

A week later, Drew announced that he was pulling the plug. He explained that the return had not justified the investment. He proffered ways by which the investment could be better utilized elsewhere.

Not everyone was pleased. But people, by and large, bought into Drew’s decision.

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