The Difference Between Being Consistent and Being Fair

I had a great discussion with one of my leaders in her growth review a couple weeks ago. She told me she wanted to get better in her consistency, that is, she wanted to be sure she was treating the employees she was leading equally.

It turns out that what she was referring to was fairness. I blogged on the topic of fairness a few years ago. When we treat our employees fairly, we allow every one of them the opportunity and freedom to perform by providing them with training, coaching, and candid feedback.

If I let you leave two hours early for an appointment one day without taking PTO because you have an appointment and you’re caught up on your work, then I’m fair. And if I don’t permit you to leave early without taking PTO because you’re consistently behind on your work, then, again, I’m also being fair.

We make fair decisions. But our philosophy in how we make those decisions? That is rooted in our consistency. If your foundation and leadership philosophy is consistent, then your decisions will be consistent and predictable for your team.

How are you doing with your consistency as a leader? Here are questions to answer:

  1. Can your teammates easily predict your answers to questions or how you’ll handle situations? If so then you’ve been consistent.
  2. Are you relatively even tempered, or do your moods change drastically? Mood swings eliminate consistency.
  3. Is your leader able to hand off projects to you without constantly checking in on your performance? If so, your performance is consistent!
  4. When you say you’ll take action, do you always follow through? If not, then your teammates probably view you as inconsistent.
  5. Do you do something because it needs to be done or because you feel like it? Our ability to deliver and get things done is key to consistency.

It’s been said that being unpredictable makes for a fun and exciting relationship. However, in leadership being unpredictable just means you are wavering on your principles. Do you lead by example? If so then your example needs to be consistent so you’re easy to follow and learn from.

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  • Garry says:

    Great info. I am writing a book about a similar perspective on leadership and your article is right on point. There is definitely a difference in fair and equal. It’s important for our teams to trust that we will be fair.