Leaders, you can’t treat everyone equally

Equal rights


There are some people though who don’t get an equal amount of my time and energy. My wife is allowed access to far more of my attention than a stranger on the street.

And if you’re in any kind of people management it’s even more tricky. People expect you to treat one child or staff member the same way you treated another.

But does that really work?

Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence;
    rebuke the discerning, and they will gain knowledge. (Proverbs 19:25)

What would you prefer? A flogging or a rebuke?

Flogging the Mocker

There is a certain type of person the book of Proverbs calls the “Mocker” – someone who does not respond well to correction (Proverbs 15:12)  but rather would prefer to make fun of those who do right.

The Proverb above suggests that in some cases consequences are more effective than conversation.

When my children were younger I could not use logical argument with them to deter them from running into a busy road. If the older child ran out into the middle of the road and I whisked him back to safety I might remove a privilege.

He would kick and scream but two things had been achieved. First, he would be less likely to run out into the road again. Second, his younger sister would learn by watching.

Look at the first line of that Proverb again. Here’s my take on it:

Provide consequences for those who can’t be reasoned with. It will deter both him and others.

Can this work in adult management?

Imagine someone is consistently late for work. You try to reason with them, win them over, get them on side, but after weeks of this lateness, it still continues.

Sometimes, no amount of verbal correction will help.

If there’s a company policy with consequences for lateness, you don’t need to argue, reason or convince anyone. You just have to calmly and lovingly play it by the book.

They might kick and scream but the same two results occur as they did with my children.

Not easy, because you want to be liked. You want everyone to be your friend. So do I. But the danger of that is I let my child run into the road.

Rebuking a “discerning man”

There are some staff members or volunteers who are genuinely for the organisation and want to work with you. You don’t need to “flog” this person. They get it.

I’ve seen too many high quality professionals flogged in the workplace for a misdemeanour. The “discerning” person is treated like they were a Mocker.

The problem here is that a staff member who started out as a discerning employee who could have been a manager’s ally is turned into a mocker. They become disillusioned. They joined the organisation with enthusiasm but feel like they’ve been humiliated, patronised.

They might have responded wonderfully to a positive, loving correction. “I love the way you do xyz and I’m so glad you are helping abc in the wxy department. How’s all that going? Cool. There’s just this one thing I wanted to discuss with you…” 

Sounds idealistic I know. But often when I’ve gone in like that, the issue has come from them before I even got to addressing it myself.

Knowing the difference

The skill then is knowing the difference between a Mocker and a discerning person.

I have a fail-safe, fool-proof method of finding out.

Ready for it?

Here it is.

First time round, treat everyone as if they are wonderfully discerning, open to correction and 100% on side.

You’ll soon find out who’s who after that.

However they respond after that, love them. Love people to bits. Love them with conversation, love them with consequences. You must do everything in love.

Otherwise you stand in danger of becoming a Mocker yourself.


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