Empathy, Leaders

Leaders Are Some of the Unfairest People

Leaders Are Some of the Unfairest People

It doesn’t matter what the intent is, leaders are put into positions that’s difficult to be able to please everyone. The perception and expectations of leaders are to be fair. Yet, the conditions makes it quite challenging for fairness to be attained. Therefore, leaders are some of the unfairest people. But that may not be such a bad thing.

Common people strive to act fair and be fair to one another. So too do leaders and this is something you can read more about in my blog Leaders Should Stop Trying To Be Fair. Being fair sounds like a good thing, and it is. But leaders struggle to be fair regularly in their decisions. In just about all aspects of their work decisions, leaders face this challenge. Depending on how you view it, and which side you land on, you too may view your leaders as some of the unfairest people you know.

As leaders juggle the challenges of being fair, here are some aspects of their decisions that makes it challenging for leaders to be fair.

  • Socializing – For a leader, socializing can’t be done freely without thought and consideration. If you have lunch with one team member, others will question why you don’t have lunch with them. If you spend more time speaking to another member, other will ask why they don’t get the same attention. Socializing can really become intimidating for a leader.
  • Assigning work – Distributing work always have team members looking around. Unless the work is exactly the same, it’s difficult to distribute work evenly. Even then, depending on skill level, experience, seniority and compensation, it can be easily debated that even work distribution is unfair. For example, if you give exact the same amount of work to employee A and employee B, but employee B has much more experience and can finish in half the time, which can be viewed as unfair. The same apples with skills, seniority and compensation.
  • Giving critiques – Part of the job for a leader is to give critiques to team members when work is not up to par. However, a smart leader will know when to give feedback and when to let it go. A good leader will also know that each team member takes in and reacts to critiques differently. Therefore, a good leader will give different style of criticism to each team member. They will do so at different times. But in doing so, others may view them as being unfair.
  • Showing Empathy – The ability to sense that an employee is in distress and needs special attention is a skill set of a leader. To be able to show empathy and help a team member in need is such a crucial skill that a leaders should not be without. You can read more about empathy in my blog Leadership Empathy. As great as it is to have empathy and give it to those in need, others why may not understand empathy may disagree. Those who doesn’t may not be aware of the situation or not understand the importance of empathy may just view it as giving special treatment unfairly.
  • Mentoring – Part of the responsibilities of a good leader is to mentor their team members. A good leader will make sure to give time and attention in mentoring team members to help them improve and grow their careers. Some members will need more mentoring than others. There are also some who will need different type of mentoring. And then there are those who doesn’t want or think they need any mentoring at all. Regardless of wanting, needing or even if they’re getting mentoring, as long as someone else appears to receive more attention, comparison is made. Then the perception of unfairness again comes into mind.

Jealousy is real and it exist not only between couples, but between people in general. Comparing why others appears to get more or have more than we do is toxic, but it’s something that most people can’t seem to avoid. But because there is comparison and jealousy at play, the decisions leaders make can always have the appearance of being unfair. And that’s why it appears that leaders are some of the unfairest people.


Photo by: Andrea Piacquadio

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