In my experience there are more poor leaders than wise leaders. But often the actions and decisions that define those poor leaders, are things that could so easily be remedied if they put themselves in another person’s shoes.
Recently I heard about someone who received a bonus from their boss. It was considered a lovely gesture, until they realised that another employee (on the same pay level and same seniority) had received double the bonus she had. The bonus was not linked to a formal performance incentive, nor was there any explanation given to either employee of the reason for the bonuses.
This boss may have had some ‘logical’ reasons for doing this – and when it boils down to it, the boss is entitled to reward whoever she wants, in whatever way she wants.
However, just because you are ‘entitled’ to do something, doesn’t necessarily mean it is a wise decision. By giving no explanation, the employees in this situation were left to wonder what the meaning was behind the disparity in bonuses.
An action like this has the potential to cause division and create uncertainty.
Wise leaders operate with transparency and honesty, seeking not to manipulate situations, but where possible, to engineer the best outcomes for everyone. It may involve consulting with stakeholders to involve them in the process, and giving people a platform to raise concerns and ideas. This doesn’t mean that employees and stakeholders have to be privy to all the reasons behind your decisions. But it does mean carefully considering how an action might be interpreted.
Every good leader will have to make tough calls and stick by them, despite backlash.
What those affected will remember, is the way you communicated a decision and your willingness to listen to concerns.
There will still be employees who dislike decisions, but they will have far more respect for you if you treat them with dignity, and strive to alleviate any negative consequences. Good leaders consider how they would feel if they were in their employees’ situation.