Leading With Fairness, Respect & Support

4 Minute Read

We’ve all been there. And some are still there. Maybe this will remind you of the people on your team. In a spot where what was once a career is now just a job – a means to an end. All purpose is gone and people don’t feel valued. Negative behaviors have become the norm. It feels like some have given up. People start to feel stuck or are keeping their eyes peeled for a new job…far, far away from here. What happened?

The short answer: YOU could be the problem.

In fact, an HBR survey revealed that 58% of people say they would trust a complete stranger over their own boss. That’s over half of your workforce. Do we have your attention yet?

It all comes down to a lack of fairness, respect, and support.

Managers tell us all the time how they trust and respect their team. They’re fair and hold every person to the same standard. They stand behind their people no matter what. And you would probably say the same thing. We know that most managers don’t intentionally treat people in a negative way. But ask yourself this: Do your actions demonstrate fairness, respect, and support? Let’s walk through some examples.


As a leader of a team, you probably know who your “rock stars” are. The ones you trust completely. The ones who get things done. And a lot of times, those same rock stars end up being your favorite employees. Of course, you want to reward them, nurture them, and develop them. In doing so, however, you might be unintentionally treating other employees differently. Because shouldn’t you be rewarding, nurturing, and developing all of your employees? Shouldn’t they all be afforded the same opportunities? And shouldn’t they all be held to the same standard?

At the same time, not addressing poor or mediocre performance from employees will bring everyone down. Do you avoid having difficult conversations about performance? When you allow bad behavior to continue, you indirectly communicate that it is okay. Address bad behavior. And coach and develop all employees. Your role is to raise everyone up to their highest potential. Failing to do so can have disastrous effects on your team.


Everyone defines respect differently. However, at the end of the day, people want to feel like they are heard. That their opinion matters. And the work they do is valued. Start by getting to know your team on a personal level. What do they like? Dislike? Build the foundation. Then, be intentional about asking your team for input…actually take their suggestions into consideration. When something goes wrong, don’t jump to blame and accusations. Listen to understand the whole situation and try to see all sides of the coin.

Last, when someone disagrees with you or gives you feedback that you don’t agree with, don’t get defensive or argumentative. Stay open to different points of view. Demonstrate in your actions and behaviors that you respect diversity in thought and that you truly care about their opinions and feelings


Are you asking more of your team today than you did in the past? Are you short-staffed or going through a major organizational change? If so, chances are your team is stretched. Which isn’t a bad thing altogether. However, your team needs you to show support and empathy. Acknowledge the hard work and extra effort they have given. Celebrate the good stuff! And find ways to let them know you care.

Little things can go a long way. Give people time to recharge their batteries. Encourage people to take adequate breaks, eat lunch away from their desk, or go for a quick walk. And promote taking appropriate time off. Demonstrate flexibility when you can to accommodate life outside of work.

It takes every employee you have to run a company. Not just the Executive Team. So when even one person or department feels mistreated, that feeling starts to trickle down and creates a cycle of collusion. People are talking about it. Secret conversations are taking over productive ones. And an “us versus them” culture is created. Every single employee in your company, no matter their position, needs to feel respected, supported and appreciated. That’s the bottom line.

Updated November 10, 2020

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