How To Be A Fair And Good Leader

I’ve had it with you! You’re through with the company. Pack your bags and get out of here!

Those words are hard to read. They’re harder to live through. Yet so many potential team members have heard words similar to those above.

They’ve been a part of a team with a bad leader. The leader wasn’t fair or good. The leader was plain bad.

Man standing in front of blue wall

Photo by William Daigneault

I’ve seen something like this first hand.

A customer called to complain a shipment wasn’t received. The owner called the shipping manager into his office. The owner began to berate the shipping manager.

Not only did he berate and belittle him, but he also did it in a manner the whole office could hear. Once he was done, he followed the shipping manager out to the floor, slamming doors along the way and shouting threats at him.

My heart broke for this man. You could see he was broken and hurt. You could see his heart was no longer in his job because of the way he was being treated.

To top this all off, it was discovered the shipment had arrived at the customer’s location. The customer had misplaced it.

Did the owner apologize to the team member? No. Did the owner apologize to those who heard his rant? No.

We all know this isn’t the way a fair and good leader treats their team members. Leaders can be better than this. YOU can be better than this.

How To Be A Fair And Good Leader

Get the facts:

When you hear a customer is upset, it is easy to jump to conclusions. The customer has said the shipment wasn’t delivered. Or the shipment was damaged. Or a team member treated them poorly.

Our minds rush to solutions. We need to figure out how to make the customer happy. We need to keep them.

Rushing to a resolution rarely ends well. You will not have all of the facts. You will often come to the wrong resolution.

By slowing down, by asking around, by getting the facts, you can make a more appropriate resolution. You can figure out what went wrong, who was at fault, and how to deal with the situation.

Get the facts first before making accusations.

Seek to understand:

You’ve received the facts. Now it is time to analyze the facts and understand them.

Had the owner looked at the bill of lading, the shipping company billing, and the signed document saying the company had received their shipment, his poor treatment of the team member would have not happened. He could have understood something else went wrong.

It is up to the leader to seek understanding. Team members and customers can only give information. The leader has to process the information and understand what happened.

Understanding will help a leader decide what course of action to take next. Will he stick up for his team member or will he side with the customer? Understanding what happened will make this step easier.

Give an appropriate admonishment:

There will be times when the fault lies with the team member. When this happens, you will have to decide what the appropriate course of action is.

I believe a couple of things have to happen here:

  • Admonish in private: Don’t make their admonishment public. It will humiliate and demoralize your team members. Use a private space to admonish.
  • Find a pathway to correction: Admonishing a team member only goes so far. It will let them know what went wrong. The next thing a fair and good leader will do is to help the team member figure out what to do next. This leader knows they’re there to help their team members improve. They will help their team members find a way to correct the mixup.
  • Acknowledge improvement: After admonishing the team member, do you see improvement? A fair and good leader will acknowledge their team member’s improvement. They will praise in public the change that has come.

Apologize when wrong:

Every leader will make a mistake. The owner of the company I saw this work for made a huge mistake in screaming and using vulgarities against this team member. Worse… the owner failed to apologize and recognize his mistakes.

This is not the sign of a fair and good leader.

The whole office saw a man ripped apart with words. The man was threatened and beaten down.

When the situation was resolved by the customer acknowledging the shipment had been received, the owner should have taken a couple of steps. He should have:

  • Apologized to the team member
  • Apologized to the team who saw his inappropriate actions
  • Asked for forgiveness
  • Looked for a way to prevent this from happening again

None of this happened. There was no apology. There was no change. Everything continued on as-is.

Don’t be this leader. Instead, be a leader who is willing to admit when they’ve made a mistake. Go to those you’ve wronged or acted inappropriately in front of. Tell them you made a mistake. Show them you’re working on making changes to how you respond.

Following these steps will help you become a more fair and good leader. These are only the starting points. You will have to continue working on yourself and your reactions as you lead.

Strive to become a leader people can respect. That they can view as good and fair.

Question: What steps are you taking to become a fair and good leader? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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