Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Servant Leadership Practice--Watch Out for the Slippery Slope

Often I prefer to take the 'red-eye' flights. I don't like to waste a perfectly good work-day sitting in the airport or in the metal tube in the sky. If I can travel at night, then I'm available to work during the daylight--on both ends of the trip. Even with all the road-warrior tools, it's not the same as being with a client or in the office with the rest of the team.

Of course, towards the end of the day, no matter how many cups of coffee I had, I would be tired...and perhaps a little foggy. My staff used to joke that the day of my return on a red-eye was the best time to convince me to make decisions in their favor. They would be the Radar to my Colonel Blake from M*A*S*H, asking me to trust them as they held out forms to be signed.

More importantly, it's important to stay alert for slight deviations from a policy path. Often when I was faced with a sticky situation, I found it important to take time to think about the implications of the decision. Was I setting a precedent? Would I be consistent with my values regarding people, the purpose of the organization, the treatment of customer & supplier partners and the organizational culture? Not many situations were unique in outline. However, the particulars always wanted a thorough evaluation toward fairness.

It's easy to write policies that treat every situation equally. It's impossible to write policies that treat every situation fairly. You cannot write a policy that can cover every possible scenario. If you tried, it would cover a whole wall. Treating people and partners equally is not the same as fairly. In fact, treating someone just like someone else could compromise an ethic that you hold. You might have to deduct pay from a single mother who needed to be with a sick child if you're policy ignores the reason for leaving work early. And then it might depend on how much you trust that person to return in a timely manner or the verity behind the reason for departing. There are many factors that often need to be considered.

Today, watch for an example of fairness versus equality and how it relates to your values, principles and corporate policies. Abiding by a policy, would you end up treating some equally but not fairly and not in keeping with your ethics?

For C12 and Truth@Work members, in the scriptures, we are advised to be alert (I Pet 5.8 and others) lest we slip into sin. The letter to Romans suggests that there are many ways to honor God through our actions that don't necessarily have to be the same as someone else. Acting different from one set of guidelines is not sin. However, we have to be consistent with what we believe is honoring. This is the heart of integrity--acting in congruence with your beliefs and values.

No comments:

Post a Comment