SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Would you rather be seen as being a fair leader or a just one?

  • I’d rather be seen as being fair: 44%
  • I’d rather be seen as being just: 56%

Justice Beats Fairness. Life’s not fair. Not everyone will be happy with the decisions you make and there will always be complaints about fair treatment. Being just is a difficult task. It requires leaders to be deliberate about how they spend their time (not everyone will get the same access), how they discipline, hand out promotions and assignments, and ultimately treat people. If you’re ever feeling “fairness pangs” where you have to make a tough call that isn’t necessarily fair, at least ensure justice is on your side.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, author of “Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results” and “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.” (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

How do you handle someone who’s a “squeaky wheel”?

  • I always meet their needs and answer their questions: 7%
  • I ask them to generate solutions before coming to me: 90%
  • I direct them to go to someone else for help: 2%
  • I refuse to meet with them until they have something for review: 1%

Make them Self-Sufficient. “Squeaky Wheels” can consume a great deal of your time if you’re not careful. For the vast majority of you, the push toward making them self-sufficient is clear. For those who aren’t taking this approach, I encourage you to look at how you can wean them from the amount of support you provide. If you use basic self-sufficiency building approaches, you should be able to reclaim that time to invest it elsewhere. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

How do you deal with “steamrollers” on your team?

  • I coach them to be more sensitive: 68%
  • I leave them alone — they’re getting great results: 9%
  • I change their roles so they have fewer difficult interactions: 20%
  • I send them to a different team: 3%

Slowing down the Steamrollers. It’s hard to have a difficult conversation with a Steamroller because many times they’re turning out solid results. Tackle the issue head-on instead of avoiding it by changing their roles. They’re never going to drop the rough behaviors if they’re not coached on doing so. Don’t pass a problem along to someone else. Give the person the coaching they need to continue delivering great results without stepping on so many toes along the way. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Which is harder: improving a slacker’s performance or getting a high-performer promoted?

  • Getting a slacker to improve is more difficult: 70%
  • Finding a way to get a high-performer promoted is harder: 30%

Slackers Rule. Finding that slacker’s motivation is a tricky task. They have the skills but they’re simply unwilling to apply them. It’s inherently a motivation challenge and your job as their leader is to find a way to light their fire. First, talk with them. Get them to explain why they’re not excited by their work. You’d be amazed at what they’ll share. Consider changing their role, changing incentives, or eliminating dissatisfiers that prevent them from applying themselves. If you can unlock their motivation, you should see instant productivity improvements. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

How do you invest your time and energy in your team members?

  • I spread it around evenly so it’s fair: 38.53%
  • I invest more heavily in low performers: 15.58%
  • I invest more heavily in high performers: 45.89%

Change Your View of Time Allocation. Low performers are being shortchanged. Your high performers might not want so much of your time. After all, they’re pretty self sufficient and your “investment” could be seen as “micromanaging” or a lack of trust. You’d be much better off investing your limited “leadership capital” (your time and energy) where it will yield a higher return in terms of improved performance. When you understand the relationship between your investments and team member results and learn to look at it differently, your allocation of time should shift significantly. (read more…)