Focus on fairness

Gain a reputation as a judicious judge

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in Leaders & Managers,Office Management

Ask employees what they want in a great boss, and they’ll emphasize fairness. A leader who demonstrates balance and objectivity earns the respect of the troops.

Take these steps to upgrade your “fairness quotient:”

Analyze all sides of an issue. When discussing what action to take, start from a neutral position and consider all possible options. Play devil’s advocate. Gather your employees’ input and summarize their main points. Don’t feel you must vote instantly on what you hear. Some bosses mistakenly begin by identifying what they think is the best alternative; then they allow their biases to shield them from new and important information.

Speak up for missing voices. Influence within an organization usually means catching the boss’s ear. But the most enlightened leaders don’t rely solely on what they learn from their closest confidants. They also initiate conversations with low-profile employees whose insights often go unnoticed. When you’re in a meeting, represent the views of others who aren’t included.

Invite self-appraisals. The most admired leaders don’t walk around rendering judgments on people. Instead, they encourage individuals to judge themselves as accurately as they can. The next time you’re tempted to lash out at an employee, ask the person to critique how he handled the situation. Say, “I’d like to hear your take on what happened.” Listen intently and dispassionately. And watch your body language—don’t give away your true feelings.

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