The Team Building Directory

Advice and information about all things team buiding

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Fairness is the Most Important Leadership Quality



In many organisations, women are paid less than men to do equivalent work.

Whilst business owners do this to take more profits from the company, they may be missing out on the impact they’re really having by treating their staff unfairly.

Former investment banker Marco Alvera tells the story of his experience within an Italian Oil Company in an eye-opening ted talk. He says that the oil company seemed ‘soft’ on their staff, assuring they had jobs for life, fixed salaries, and little to no consequences when they failed a project.

You may be thinking, “Surely this company would fail” ?

But rather than finding this, the outcome was completely different to what he expected. He found his team of 3000 to be dedicated, loyal, willing to take risks and considerably less stressed than his team in the investment bank.


Commitment to fairness drives:                                  

  • Higher levels of engagement
  • Honest and open communication
  • Constant motivation
  • Low stress


Alvera speaks about how experiencing unfair treatment sparks a chemical reaction that is similar to how we feel when we experience physical pain.

An impolite colleague, biased boss or greedy supplier becomes an enemy in our subconscious.


In contrast, when we have been treated fairly our trust increases and we are often more motivated and time is saved. Our own behaviour becomes more generous, considerate and fair.

It could be argued that in an organisation where unfairness is tolerated, positive and desirable behaviours will never be sustained.

If we aim to remove unfairness and promote fairness, the culture of a team or organisation can change for the better.


Here are some approaches to try within your team:

  • Valuing effort not the outcome
  • Eliminating politics
  • Filtering out unfairness
  • Being aware of own bias
  • Listening to everyone – Radical transparency
  • Reconsider having a hierarchy (Equal wage and discipline)
  • Always seek the truth
  • Encourage mistakes
  • Give away resources if it feels right, without seeking a quantifiable return on investment
  • Allow these behaviours to spread naturally throughout the organisation


Marco Alvera believes that if you embrace these changes, you will:

  • Create outstanding teamwork
  • Motivate individuals to make more significant contributions
  • Increase innovation
  • Retain great talent
  • Reduce stress


And unlike a bonus payment, the effect is constant