I had a new experience as a juror this week and as we were deliberating one of my fellow jurors made a poignant statement. He quoted the Blackstone ratio and said ‘it is better than 10 guilty persons escape, than one innocent suffer’. Bringing those experiences back to the office made me think about how we lead our staff; some use leadership as a punitive advantage and others use it as a method to force the hands of our employees. By doing that we are being our most ineffectual selves, our staff is our most valuable resource. The Blackstone ratio could give us the framework to be more effective leaders and here’s how.
Your staff is right until they are wrong
Now this is not an invitation to let your staff run amuck, but it is an invitation to give your staff the benefit of the doubt until you have the necessary details to make an educated decision about challenging situations. We all know that staff can and will lie, but that should not be a deterrent to treating them fairly and getting the facts of the situation.
Your analysis should involve only the relevant factors
In deliberation there were so many things we couldn’t consider and it struck me that when you are disciplining your employees, most leadership considers events and personality traits that have nothing to do with the current situation. As leaders we talk candidly about negative employee reactions to discipline, but what we don’t talk about is whether or not our analysis of the situation was fair to the employee accused of a mistake and the customers affected.
Know what you limits are
Compromise is often viewed as a dirty word, but in leadership it is a necessary skill. You have to fully comprehend and accept what your absolute rock bottom negotiation limit is. Many times people go into a situation and come out very angry that is wasn’t resolved to their satisfaction, but sometimes the only fair resolution is one where something was done, but no one is happy about it. You have to ask yourself, what am I willing to accept?
As leaders we set the standard for how things are done and our actions are interpreted by our staff as the template for problem solving. When we create an atmosphere that challenges our organizations to be their best selves, we are creating an atmosphere where people are not afraid to be accountable.