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Common Leader Mistake - Trying To Treat Everyone The Same

Probably because we live in a democratic society (at least most of us), there's a mistaken notion that leaders and managers should treat all employees the same, in the name of equality. Not only is this based on a false and poorly thought through understanding of what equality means (it doesn't mean same), but it has major practical implications for leaders and managers.

People are different. If you take two people doing even exactly the same job, it's likely that each will have different skills, abilities and potential. Each will have strengths and weaknesses that enable them to contribute in different ways, even if they hold the same kind of job. Each has different needs and expectations and preferences.

One for example, may need more personal contact to excel. The other may prefer you as leader or manager to get them aimed, and leave them be.

When you try to lead by treating very different people exactly the same, you deny their uniqueness, which often alienates them. No employee wants to feel like an interchangable corporate part, and employees expect their leaders to recognize their uniqueness. Violate this and you risk alienating followers.

Further when you treat different people the same, you are suppressing their unique ability to contribute in their own ways, and lose the diversity present in any workplace.

So, you don't want to treat different people the same. However, you need to treat people fairly and equivalently (or equally to the extent that's possible. But equal does not mean the same.

Why is Treating Everyone The Same Problematic For Leaders?


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