Build a Culture of Discrimination. One of the biggest things that holds us back as leaders is our failure to discriminate in how we lead our team. All too often, there is not enough discrimination in the workplace. How many times have you missed the opportunity to discriminate and, in doing so, failed to give your employees the unique guidance specific to their needs?
If you are like me, countless times.
Instead, most of the time, we concern ourselves with the exact opposite. We spend most of our time focused on the collective needs of our teams and postpone our concern with the individual needs of each person. Our businesses would be so much better if we embraced discrimination and the positive impact discrimination can make on our teams.
Discrimination is most often a notorious word when it could be one of celebration. When you look up the definition of “discriminate” you find the first definition to be to “recognise a distinction; differentiate.” This is such a positive skill for leaders to develop. Identifying and seeing the differences in all things is critical to the success of a leader. Somehow, most of us have been misled to jump to the second definition of “discriminate” which is a way of acting that treats others in a negative manner because of their differences. Let’s address the elephant in the room, this second definition is bad! Even worse, it is also the definition most of us associate discrimination with and it prevents us from focusing on the positive aspects that make each of us unique.
Every parent of multiple children is intimately familiar with discrimination and the positive impact and influence it has on their parenting and families. Each of my three children have unique needs. As I spend time analysing the way I parent each of my children, I strive to see each child’s individual needs so that I can parent them in ways that respect their differences. Failing to recognise the unique differences in my children hinders my ability to be the parent my children need. Treating my children as if each of their needs are the same does them a disservice. Why would we think that the way we interact with our employees should be any different?
When we don’t discriminate in how we communicate, lead, and inspire members of our team, it holds us back. Stop treating your team members like they all have the same needs. Stop ignoring their uniqueness and what makes them, them. Stop failing to discriminate with your employees. They need you to see them. They need you to lead in a way that is unique to them.
Discrimination doesn’t hold us back; it makes us better leaders. It would be more beneficial to our teams for us to find the specific desires of each team member, and the inimitable ways they are motivated, than to ignore the unique ways they need our leadership. So how can we discriminate in a way that benefits our employees and teams? We need to meet with each person on our team individually, and often. We need to have conversations with each team member on a frequent basis that not only involves discussing the things each employee is doing well and needs to improve, but that explores their individual motivations. Meeting with each person you lead takes time, and you need to make time for it. As you do, you will realise how beneficial and impactful it is to address the distinctive needs of your team.
When each person on your team is individually motivated, the collective results will exceed what is possible when you treat everyone the same. Discriminating between your employees is one of the most important skills a leader should have. The only real way to lead your team to their greatest potential is to discriminate. Don’t let the negative connotation surrounding discrimination prevent you from being the leader your team needs. Care enough about your team and your potential as a leader to not avoid opportunities to discriminate.
Your team, and your future success, will be so glad that you did!