In observing elementary school classes, I found something interesting. Many teachers have noticeable favorites and more noticeable unfavorites. These favorites often seem to deserve their status. They are more eager, answer the questions correctly, are first to volunteer and set a shining example to the rest of the class. The unfavorites seem to be just as understandably placed. They don’t seem to work as hard, they have no motivation. Any action on their part is either to make others laugh or frustrate the teacher and learning environment. The average teacher would naturally have favorites.
As a leader, however, you cannot. I repeat you can NOT have favorites on your team. Favorites are just fuel for resentment. Although it can feel like a lonely job to be a leader without favorites, you just can’t afford that dangerous luxury. Not just logistically, as reports are filed against you for unequal treatment of your team, but as a leader, you have to be equitable. The more you are known to play favorites, the less respect you will have from your team, even the favorites. The moment people see you play favorites is the moment when every effort of your team isn’t for efforts sake, but competitively formed to please you. A leader is never swayed by competitive effort, but quickly responds to sincere and genuine hard work, regardless of the performer.
Make the point clear to your team that they will make themselves ‘favorites’ by engaging in behaviors that clearly sustain the values and mission of your team. Anyone is welcome to that club, and their behavior is the entry card, not your liking or disliking of any specific individual.
Enjoy the weekend!