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Don't treat everyone the same.

Wait… What? This sounds like injustice. It’s wrong to be nicer to the rich person than the poor person, or to open more doors for the White person than the Black person, or to listen more seriously to the man than to the woman. So we should treat all people the same, right?

That’s all good and important, but not what this article is about. This is about understanding people as individuals, each with their own personality, strengths, weaknesses, preferences, circumstances, and subcultures. To treat them differently is an exercise in kindness, sensitivity, and generosity.

Even on the matter of justice, the right and ethical thing to do might be, for example, to open more doors for the Black person than the White person, because of the disadvantages that Black person faces in many other contexts. Sometimes it takes preference to get up to fairness. Equity.

Anyhow, justice is one thing and kindness is another. It also affects how you as a leader will get the best work from one of your team members. Here’s one simple and powerful example, which I gleaned from an interview with businesswoman Mellody Hobson:
+ People earlier in their careers need more affirmation than correction.
+ People later in their careers need more correction than affirmation.

People earlier in their careers are often under-confident. They’re too much haunted by the fear they might not be doing things right, they might not be doing the right thing, they might be doing too much, or they might be doing too little. They need affirmation.

People later in their careers are often over-confident. They think they know what should be done and how. They think they’re doing great and contributing well, whether in fact they are or not. They might need correction in order to fit better into the present team, when they’re bringing in too much thinking from prior teams they’ve been a part of. They might need correction because of how they are over-assertive about their ideas and unaware of how they’re coming across.

So — know your people. Study them. Put in the effort to discern the best approach to take with each. Which means not treating everyone the same.

love, joy, peace … Michael

I’m a freelance consultant to nonprofits, with an emphasis on research. I’m keen to learn about your organization, and you might be interested to learn more about what I do. Let’s have a conversation. Write to me, people! emichaeljaffarian@gmail.com.

Sign up for Jaffarian’s Little Newsletter on Nonprofits & Research at www.michaeljaffarian.com. I work from home. The picture is part of the view from my library window. Vol. 1 №47.
#nonprofits #leadership #sensitivity #teamdevelopment #listening