The Leadership Minute

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Fairness is a big issue with us humans—in fact, in any reward system, our concern for fairness comes quickly to the front.

Apparently this trait is so innate that it can be observed in dogs.  National Public Radio ran a story on fairness from the perspective of dogs.

Basically, the research went like this: dogs were lined up to perform stunts that they usually performed for praise alone.  After the dogs performed, two of them were rewarded with a piece of bread, and two were not.  After this occurred a second time, the not-rewarded dogs looked carefully to see if they were seeing things correctly.  The third go around they performed a different trick they knew to see if that would elicit the reward.  On the fourth round, they quit trying and wouldn’t look their trainer in the eye.

Of course we humans have a brainy prefrontal cortex with which to analyze and reason, so we are much more adept at understanding why things are the way they are and that life is sometimes unfair.

But something for leaders to notice:  If morale and engagement are low in your organization, what might fairness have to do with it?  Are you willing to ask about fairness and really listen to what you hear? 

If you want to talk about fairness or dogs, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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