I’ve been working today to expand my ideas around ‘fairness’, what it means to factor being fair into leadership. I’ve been writing and drawing all day… it’s late… i’m not done yet… so in the spirit of #WorkingOutLoud, i’m sharing the introduction. More tomorrow!
What does it mean to be fair? What does it mean to do right? These are not idle questions: for an organisation to be socially responsible, for it to be magnetic to talent, for it to be agile, it needs to be well led, and leadership needs to be fair.
In the Social Age, hierarchical control is subverted by the power of communities and the social authority that they wield. Communities (both within and outside of the organisation) are able to harness the mechanisms of social media to generate momentum and effect change. Some organisations, like the NHS in the UK, are developing models of change based on an understanding of this. The ‘Healthcare Radicals‘ approach uses sanctioned subversive communities to empower individuals to shape, direct and share their efforts, within a framework of permissions and learning created by the organisation.
But the our world is riven by the potential of unfairness: the new social contract between organisation and employee means there is no job for life, there is little security, there may be no space for fairness anymore. We see organisations spiralling out of the space that society more widely wants them to inhabit: the banks with their fractured cultures, the privacy issues surrounding technology, the ethical dilemmas of pesticides and GM crops, the search for oil, the inequalities of rich and poor. Whichever way we look, we see failures of fairness.
And yet it’s such a simple concept: how have we ended up here?
I’ve become increasingly interested in what it means to be fair: not in an abstract and intellectual way, but what it means at the practical levels of management and running a business, at the day to day space we inhabit where we have to get stuff done. I’ve explored ‘fairness‘ in Social Leadership and the wider question of social responsibility, but in this article, for the first time, i want to start sharing some ideas of a framework for fairness. A practical way of analysing a situation to work out what’s fair, in the moment, and how we consider fairness over time.
Below is a matrix capturing the four aspects of ‘fairness’ that i’ll be exploring tomorrow