Tag Archives: extra mile

Equitable Leadership – Worth the Effort

My last LeaderSips blog took on what I consider to be - for the most part - a lazy and unfair leadership style: the "equal" approach. And judging from the response, I thought the topic warranted a deeper gulp rather than a morning sip.

While the opinion that "equal is unfair" seems counterintuitive, consider this scenario: you have enough money budgeted to send 2 colleagues to a week long training course. If you ascribe to the equal approach, you will put all the names of your department in a hat and let fate take its course. This will not take into account your employees who have the skills and the interest in the course. Nor will it recognize the employees who have worked hard at bringing their skill set to the point that additional training will be beneficial. It will send a message to your entire team that individual effort means nothing.

But you can rest easy because you treated everyone equally, right? Um, no.

For those who fall on the side of "equal" I make this argument: every employee is not equal. Their abilities, attitude, history, and contributions are all different. If, by chance, you have two employees who truly are equal - then by all means, treat them exactly the same. This will serve you particularly well if your team is made up of Stepford wives.

If, on the other hand, your team is comprised of humans, you might explore equitability. Taking this approach means more work. It means spending more time developing policies that are flexible, fair, and reasonable. It means knowing the needs, talents, and accomplishments of your employees. It means you know who has made significant contributions and you know who is skating by.

Often the fear of a disgruntled employee making accusations of favoritism keeps leaders from equitable decisions. The good news is, we're not in kindergarten. Support your decisions with facts, not opinions. This keeps you from going on the defensive - and gives you an opportunity to work with employees who feel they have been mistreated. "Why yes, David, Susan is going to the conference. You and I have talked about your attendance record, your inability to meet a deadline, and the customer complaints we've received. When you have shown demonstrable improvement in these areas, you certainly will be a candidate for a conference."

The decision then is in their hands. If they opt to put in the time and effort that is required, they can be afforded the same chances as their peers. Equal leadership gives everyone the same reward, regardless of effort. Equitable leadership ensures everyone knows where they are on the playing field - how close they are to the goal line, and what they must do to score. As a leader, it is requires a great deal of work. But if you are asking your team for extra effort, shouldn't you be doing the same for them?

3 Reasons Why “Equitable” Is More Effective Than “Equal”

I once coached a rising leader who insisted on treating her employees exactly the same way. She couldn't understand why she had so many HR issues. On the face of it, you might be thinking, "well, come on, that's the best way to be an effective leader." I disagree. Continue reading

3 Steps to Great Service


Last month at the Global Leadership Summit, Horst Schulze, the founding president of the famed Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group and current Chairman and CEO of the Capella Hotel Group reminisced about his first job at a restaurant in a five-star hotel.

"My mother never forgave herself for letting me leave home at age 14 to go to work as a bus boy. In those days, working at a hotel was something servants did. Important people were engineers and businessmen, not hotel managers. But as  I watched the maitre d' walk around the dining room, speaking German to one table as he explained the food, speaking French to another table as he explained the wine, making sure he was doing everything he could to make his guests feel comfortable and welcome, something occurred to me. He was the most important person in the room- in the minds of the guests and to the employees."

The maitre d' didn't come to work to work. He came to work to be excellent in his profession. He came to work to be excellent in service delivery. He came to work to be excellent in caring for the people around him. And these three things demonstrate what service means.

I am proud to be a member of the service industry, and by that I am referring to the hospitality and tourism industry. But really, are we not all in the service industry? Shouldn't a philosophy of service permeate every industry? You might say, well, my industry is business to business... but aren't people working in those businesses?

So, what components of service was the matire d' of Schulze's youth demonstrating? Before we go there, let's look for a moment at customers.

Customers break down into three groups: dissatisfied, satisfied, and loyal. The dissatisfied customers are the ones that seem as if they are never going to be happy. They complain about your product, they are rude to your employees. The satisfied customers are the ones who are there to conduct a transaction. You give them what they ask for, but they are neutral; they are not "your" customers. Finally there are the loyal customers. The wild raving fans. The ones who not only return, but tell others about you. They are YOUR customers.

Your loyal customers (your patients, your clients, your guests, your students) trust you. You develop trust because each and every time you have deliver three important things:

  • a quality, defect-free product,
  • timely service through efficient processes,
  • delivered with kindness.

That's called service.

The maitre d' came to work to be excellent in his profession. He delivered a quality, defect-free product. He came to work to be excellent in service delivery. He provided timely service through efficient processes. He came to work to to be excellent in caring about the people around him. He delivered his service with kindness.

Think it's different in your business? Nope.

If you buy a car what do you expect? The car is defect free, it's delivered in a timely manner, and the salesperson treats you like a human being.

It's the same when you place an order for parts for your business. Or you are admitted into a hospital. Or you take a class. Or you visit your lawyer.

Want to be known for excellence in service? Know your stuff. Provide it efficiently. Deliver it with kindness.




Who Is Your Customer?

customer telephoneWho is your customer?

(No, really, I’m asking.)

Who is the person that is the focus of your daily labor?

Seems simple.

Is it your client/guest/customer?


Is it your boss, so you’ll stay part of the inner circle?

Is it HR, so they won’t come running after you with a coaching and counseling form?

Is it Accounting, so they won’t hassle you about your expense report?

Is it a style blogger, so she'll print your picture in next month’s roundup?

Is it your favorite vendor who brings you homemade cookies?

Is it your social media audience so you'll trend?

You should decide.

A candid answer could change everything.