[August 17, 2017] Speaking with soldiers over the past few decades, I’ve heard most of them say that their Commander is tough but fair. It was always good news to know rank-and-file soldiers believe their commanders were doing the right things. Good leadership depends upon it. But what I wasn’t prepared to hear was what they considered “fair” and how it affected their personal view of their commander.
Being tough but fair is what many commanders, bosses, managers, and team leaders strive to achieve. It is, of course, not easy as it requires a balance between getting the mission done and taking care of people.
Those who learned important lessons probably did so when things were difficult and our boss demanding. What does it mean to be tough but fair? Here are 10 things that are considered important for a boss (or commander) to be tough and fair:
- Set high standards of excellence and enforce them
- Delegate authority but hold onto responsibility
- Reward success, discipline failure
- Take care of employees and stand up for them
- Treat everyone the same and with respect and admiration
- Listen closely and take everything into account
- Be open to how decisions are made
- Make decisions in a timely manner
- Be predictable but bold
- Have flexibility and be willing to see all sides of any story
One of the most important questions that often remained unanswered was what people consider to be fair and what they see as tough. All of us have had good bosses and bad, those that took care of us and those that got the job done regardless of difficult obstacles. Learning how to be a leader from those successful men and women can be considered a blessing.
Being fair is giving everyone the chance to excel at their jobs; providing opportunities, resources, and guidance. Being tough is holding them accountable for their actions. These are the keys to any successful leader and the very things soldiers told me they looked at when making judgments about their own commander.
Leadership will always mean being tough but fair.
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