As a new leader it is critical to remain fair and consistent. This can be tough as a new leader can quickly find himself under pressure to help a friend, bend the rules, or make just one exception. People who were once his peers now report to him. Handling the change in the relationship can be tough. Although the new leader’s intentions might be positive (e.g., wanting to gain support of key team members or trying to make a deposit with a reluctant follower), others might see things in a very different light. As Stephen M. R. Covey wrote in The Speed of Trust, “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.”
In recent years, organizational justice has emerged as a key theory of employee motivation. The Institute for employment Studies explains, “The term ‘organisational justice’ refers to the extent to which employees perceive workplace procedures, interactions and outcomes to be fair in nature. These perceptions can influence attitudes and behaviour for good or ill, in turn having a positive or negative impact on employee performance and the organisation’s success.”
People want to see rules applied consistently and fairly in the workplace. When you favor someone or swing back and forth in your decision-making, people question your intent and your integrity.
Here are a few questions to get you thinking about the new leader(s) you are developing:
- Is the new leader’s consistent in how he deals with reoccurring issues?
- Has the new leader allowed a desire to please someone on the team to get in the way of fairness and equity? If so, how has that impacted his reputation as a leader?
- What can the new leader do in the future to pause and reflect before making a rash or inconsistent decision?
Take it from me…
Twenty-plus years ago, I was an army lieutenant serving as a platoon leader of a 39-person airborne infantry platoon. As a new leader, there were times when I, like many new leaders, struggled with being consistent. My intent may have been good, but I failed to convey a sense of fairness and equity. Cognizant of my choices or not, I likely played favorites among my platoon members, and my leadership took a bit of a hit; yours doesn’t have to suffer a similar fate.