Treating Others Fairly Not Equally

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to reinforce relationships in times of stress. Reading time: 2:49

           Your high profile, highly-regarded top employee embarrasses your company –and himself—in a late night fender bender that clearly broke expected rules of behavior. Other employees are lobbying you to make sure you dole out the proper punishment “to serve as an example to all employees,” they say.

Catcher Yogi Berra bear hugs pitcher Don Larsen to celebrate Larsen’s  Perfect Game in the 1956 World Series

          Of course you have to enforce the rules. No favoritism. Black and white issue. Done deal.

         Not so fast.

        That’s why the most effective leaders focus more on the shades of gray. Penalizing without paralyzing future performance.

        Consider how Casey Stengel, a gray leader extraordinaire, handled this situation as the manager/leader of The New York Yankees.

       It happened during the spring exhibition season a few months after his star performer – Don Larsen – pitched the first (and still the only) perfect game in a World Series. Larsen wrapped his car around a lamppost at 5 am in St. Petersburg, Florida –then known primarily for its high concentration of retirees. Larsen was more embarrassed than hurt.

         Newspaper reporters asked Yankee leader/manager Stengel if he was going to fine the star pitcher. Stengel smiled and said: “Anybody who can find something to do at 5 am in St. Petersburg deserves a medal not a fine.”

       Stengel diffused the situation with humor when he realized the minimal impact of the situation: no one hurt, minor damage etc. and the opportunity to reinforce his supportive relationship with his star player.

       Of course, Stengel opened himself up to critics who charged favoritism. But Stengel recognized his role as a leader was to treat all of his direct reports FAIRLY not equally. Continue reading “Treating Others Fairly Not Equally”