How Leaders Can Be Strict and Fair at the Same Time

July 21, 2022

comforting a colleague

Overview: People perceive strictness and fairness as integrity. You can be a tough but fair leader by being predictable, standing up for employees, setting high standards, and modeling desired behaviors. Employees appreciate strict and fair leaders and find their attitudes liberating and empowering. 

Being strict and fair is a leadership attitude employees and followers appreciate. The reason people gravitate toward tough but fair leaders is simple. They perceive them as predictable, reliable, and compassionate. Compassionate accountability creates an island of stability and structure in one’s professional life, and people appreciate stability and predictability. 

What Does It Mean to Be Tough and Fair? 

Fair leaders give everyone a chance to be the best workers they can be. They create the material and psychological conditions that allow employees to excel. They offer support and guidance in the form of coaching and provide necessary resources. 

Strict leaders hold people accountable for their actions. They demand accountability and set strict frameworks of rules they communicate to everyone. Tough leaders make no exceptions when they enforce rules. They also let employees know how their rules fit the purpose and values of the organizations they lead. 

How Can You Be Strict and Fair? 

Leadership coaching values accountability. It can help leaders learn and espouse its principles. To be an inspirational leader who is tough and fair, consider the following practices. 

Holding Yourself and Employees to High Standards of Excellence

The key is to hold yourself to the same standards and take every opportunity to demonstrate them. 

Intelligent leaders ensure the company values reflect their focus on excellence. Whenever employees act in alignment with these values, they practice and strive for excellence. 

Delegating Well 

Intelligent leadership requires leaders to delegate effectively and constructively. Delegation should never be about throwing unwanted work onto someone else’s plate. Leaders who understand their responsibilities know the key to effective delegation is to delegate authority while holding onto responsibility. 

Leadership coaching teaches executives to hand off the authority reports need to complete a job but assume responsibility for completion. So long as they are in charge, it is the responsibility of leaders to ensure the delegated tasks are done. 

Standing Up for Employees

When leaders stand up for employees, they send clear messages that they value their work and are on their side should challenges arise. 

By standing up for employees, you build commitment and trust, boosting your credibility and the morale of your team. 

Multiple hands pointing.
Stand up for someone and you’ll earn their gratitude. 

Being Bold and Predictable

Predictability in decision-making is the mark of great leadership. Executive coaching professionals encourage clients to be predictable in their decisions so they can unlock the full potential of their teams. 

Your team cannot operate optimally unless its members can predict how you’ll respond to various opportunities, problems, ideas, and feedback. 

With your team firing on all cylinders, you can afford to be more ambitious and bolder in the goals you set. 

Treating Everyone Equally

Fair leaders value their people. They respect them and treat them equitably. When they set rules, such leaders are ready to treat star performers the way they treat their newest hires. 

Why People Like Strict and Fair Leaders

People equate strictness and fairness with integrity. Employees respect leaders who do what they say they will and model the behaviors they expect from reports. 

Employees appreciate leaders who stand up for them and put them first. People notice their leaders’ top priority is to secure environments of psychological safety for them, where they can do their best to advance their careers and organizational causes. They appreciate being able to focus on their work without worrying about bullying, toxicity, and chaos. 

Knowing the consequences of breaking the rules and understanding the rewards of alignment is liberating for people. It allows them to take responsibility for their behaviors and their work. It makes it clear they don’t have to worry about the personal quirks and whims of their superiors. 

Integrity and fairness appeal to humans. Most humans tend to respond in kind to these leadership qualities. Treat your employees fairly, and they will do the same for you. 

Contact us to learn more about how you can join the IL Movement as a coach or how you can benefit from partnering with us to bring IL Solutions to you and your organization.

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