Navigating the impartiality of leadership

Not so great leaders struggle to be impartial. They make decisions that benefit the few. They have the purple circle, and they are focused more on their own needs (like being popular), rather than the needs of the team and the business. 

This is not a great way to lead teams. 

Team members see right through it, and the leader’s credibility plummets.  

All because the leader was unable to be impartial. But what does that really mean, being impartial.  

Here are three ways that you can be: 

1. Do the right thing, not the popular thing 

This is the absolute key to impartiality. Doing what is right. 

The challenge for most leaders is that some decisions, some actions, are unpopular. They might be related to change. They might be related to staffing. They might be related to mergers or acquisitions. And some of the team might not agree with that particular course of action. 

But the decision needs to be made. And made quickly. And then explained and discussed, so everyone is aware of when it was made, and why. To the extent that if one team member is going to be impacted more than others, there should be a one-on-one conversation with that team member.  

Leadership can be lonely, when you are doing the right thing. But it does help you sleep at night. And it might mean that you are unpopular, at least in the short term. 

2. Be in the grey, humans are not black and white 

For those leaders that lead technical teams, like Engineering or Accounting leaders, there is an element of black and white. Engineering calculations are mathematical. Accounting figures are numerical. Black or white. This or that. 

Humans are not that simple. There is always grey when it comes to dealing with humans. 

The impartial leader understands that they need to be able to work in the grey, and not just the black and white. They need to be flexible, and they need to be comfortable with vagueness. Comfortable with blurriness. Comfortable with uncertainty. 

Being impartial means to be open to other’s views and mindsets. Not just fixed on one idea, opinion, or solution. It means not taking sides or passing judgement.  

Not many human focused challenges are black and white. That is why they are difficult to navigate. 

3. Lead with fairness, not favouritism 

One great leader that I had during my journey used to say that his mission was to always be ‘firm, fair, and friendly.’ I love this philosophy. Be firm, but at the same time be fair. Treat everyone the same. 

Being treated differently than other team members is one of the five biggest triggers for team members (according to Daniel Goleman). In short, it is a massive irritation for team members, to see you treat them one way, and then to see you treat other team members in another way. And rightly so. 

The impartial leader is an equitable leader. A leader who treats the ingroup team members the same as the outgroup team members – which is difficult. The impartial leader is never accused of playing favourites or having a purple circle. The impartial leader has only one set of values, and they relate to integrity, honesty and fairness. And the team respects them for that. 

In summary, to be an impartial leader, do the right thing, be in the grey, and lead with fairness. And watch the respect that your team has for you skyrocket!  

It will take some effort, but the effort is well and truly worth it!  

And please click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

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About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
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