DJHP / Leaders
Nothing is more disheartening for employees than being on a team where its leader just seems to play favorites — unless, of course, you’re one of the chosen few. You get your pick of projects, find yourself constantly tapped for input, and may even enjoy a little preferential treatment when it comes time for promotions. Even then you might not feel you can trust the spotlight, especially if your leader shows any fickleness. But that’s really a story for another day.
The thing about favoritism is that it’s become almost an epidemic. Sounds alarmist, I know. But according to a survey by McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University,92 percent of senior business executives have seen some level of favoritism in the workplace.
While this number may appear high, it does stand to reason. If you click, you just click, and this can inadvertently lead to favoritism when you’re in an advisory role. Even something as innocent as a standing lunch date can turn into bias toward subordinates. We’re human, after all, and it’s difficult not to let our emotions hold sway over our decisions.
To determine whether or not your attitude and actions are led by favoritism, I recommend taking stock of the following:
Feedback. Everyone has his or her own managerial style. There’s nothing wrong with that, and this style inevitably affects how you deliver feedback. But this feedback should always be constructive in nature.
It should set consistent expectations for every member of your team, not show favor to one person over the rest.

It should also support their individual talents and help remove barriers to success. If this isn’t the case, you may well be playing favorites and not even know it.
Time. Time is a limited resource, and how you choose to spend it delivers a very clear message to your team. Give everyone equal amounts of your time — both inside and outside the office. That means regular check-in meetings for each member of your team. It also means socializing with all or none of the crew. If you want to do a happy hour, extend the invitation to everyone.
Transparency. Leading effectively often requires transparency. Be open and honest with your team. Discuss expectations, acknowledge contributions, spell out opportunities for growth or improvement, and, above all else, give credit where credit is due to everyone on your team. Doing anything otherwise can damage loyalty and engagement.
Clarity. Transparency and clarity aren’t one in the same. You can be transparent without being clear. If you need to make a decision about something, don’t stop with an announcement of that decision. Tell them why that decision was made to avoid any misconceptions surrounding your motives.
Culture. We all talk about the culture of a company. But rarely is the same attention paid to the culture of a team. Your team has a culture that’s distinct from the rest of the organization. What is that culture? Does it support people working together? Or, does it promote gossip about others? Looking at the team’s culture can tell you a lot about your leadership style.
You want to be liked, but that doesn’t require friendships. Your role is one of coach, teacher, trainer, cheerleader, and disciplinarian. Being a friend isn’t part of the job description. By removing yourself from the equation, you become more impartial, and your team can then see that your judgment is based on the quality of the work rather than the quality of the relationship. It’s one of the surest ways of building trust from and within your team.

Dr. Jan Hoistad
Lead Coach. Business Development Consultant. Thought Leader. Entrepreneur. Author. Dr. Jan Hoistad is passionate about helping professionals, business owners, partners, and teams develop the skills necessary to achieve success and fulfillment in both their occupational pursuits and personal lives.With 35 years of experience, Dr. Hoistad has been a pioneer in the field of professional coaching. She’s advised countless CEO’s, executives, business group heads, emerging leaders, partners, teams, and professionals in career transition and business development, teaching them how to dig deep, and sometimes loosen up, so they can start living by their values, finding their purpose, and achieving their professional and personal goals with intent and confidence.By helping professionals see that personal wholeness is a means to achieving optimum professional performance, Dr. Hoistad provides her clients the tools to become catalysts for change in their own businesses, careers and lives. They learn to leverage their strengths, build on their expertise, and expand their influence to become true innovators in their fields
Dr. Jan Hoistad