Are you Treating Your Employees Fairly or Do You Cater to Those Who Are Like You?

Last week, we wrote about being a more compassionate leader. This week we are encouraging you to dig deep and ask yourself – do I treat my employees fairly and equally, or do I favor and cater to some more so than others?

As human beings we all have unconscious biases, and the most common one I observe and hear about from the leaders I engage with is what I would call “similarity” or “commonality” biases. 

Let me play this out by using a real-life example I see happening in today’s new world of work. This was far more observable when we operated in the same physical office space pre-pandemic but is still very much a gap for many leaders today.

I often receive feedback that it is sometimes difficult or challenging to connect with certain people. Only to ask a variety of questions to uncover that they appear to have nothing in common, or their perceived view is that they have very little in common based on what they know about the other person.  

When we have difficulty finding common ground, it makes it uncomfortable for people, as it is human nature to feel comfortable around others who are like us. And it goes beyond race, gender, age, social status, etc. When we do not share the same or similar perspective, or life experiences as another human being, it can create a level of disconnect or uncomfortableness if we allow it to.    

Human nature suggests that we tend to like people who are like us. Really think about that and I want you to take that away and reflect on it. You will start to realize that it is much easier to foster relationships with others who share your common values, beliefs, and perspectives.  

I want to challenge your thinking and say that being comfortable with that is not leadership; it is just easier, and it does not foster diversity, inclusion, innovative thinking, and engagement. True authentic inspiring leadership is about accepting and embracing people for who they are, valuing their strengths and what they have to offer a team or organization, regardless of how similar or different they are from you.

You might be asking yourself: How does this play out in my day-to-day role as a leader – consciously and unconsciously?

Rewarding and Recruiting

Do your top performers share the same strengths and general style as you? Don’t get me wrong, it is not uncommon to work with others who are similar to us. If we dig deep enough, we will always find some common ground. In addition, your top performers are high achievers because they are exceeding their goals and objectives. But ask yourself - are they being acknowledged and rewarded for their output, contribution, and results or because they are like you? To build on that, are you recruiting and hiring people who are like you, share your style or are you consciously building a diverse team of individuals to create a well-balanced team?

Growth Opportunities & Projects

Do you assign and distribute projects fairly within your team? Does everyone have a development plan that supports their unique strengths and areas of opportunity? Do your top performers or ‘go-to’ people receive all the extra growth opportunities and exposure? I was guilty of this very early on in my career because it was easier to assign it to someone who I trusted and ironically, not realizing it at the time, he was a male replica of myself. Looking back after many life lessons & learning throughout my journey, I realized I was guilty of playing in my comfort zone because it was easier and I was unknowingly playing favorites.

One on Ones & General Engagement

Is your time shared equally amongst your team; one-on-one time, and impromptu discussions? Or do you find that you are offering extra time to those that you really connect with? It is natural to develop meaningful relationships with others. That might be what attracted you to leadership initially but really think about how that is perceived by others. Are you providing the same level of support to each member of your team or are you going the extra mile for some and not for others?

It is a two-way street. Our employees need to deliver on the performance objectives, showing genuine interest in the job and being willing to give their personal best. It is your job as a leader to create a psychologically safe space for them to think, perform at their best, and to be who they are without judgment or repercussions.  

Be honest with yourself. Are you playing favorites, perhaps unknowingly, or are you treating everyone fairly and being a consciously-inclusive leader?

Need some help digging a little deeper?

Would you like to dig a little deeper on this topic and explore how you might be showing up for your people? If yes, reach out to me, I am here to help support your success. Please email me at or call me at 1.855.871.3374.

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