Playing Favorites (to Some Extent) Can Enhance Team Productivity
Nearly all leaders play favorites and subconsciously treat certain team members differently. This is because leaders’ preconceived notions can lead to differentiation in the relationships they have with individuals.
Employees generally accept this sort of differentiation as long as certain conditions are present, such as a climate of fairness or high team interdependence. Studies have shown that when leaders invest more in capable members and less in those not integral to team success, team performance is often maximized.
Moderate levels of differential treatment contribute to an atmosphere of productivity, but leaders should be careful not to take such treatment to the extreme. When taken too far, favoritism usually results in tremendous internal friction, which lowers team performance.
Finding the right balance is essential!
Adapted from “Team Leaders Should Play Favorites (but Only in Moderation),” by Bradley Kirkman, Yang Sui, Hui Wang and Ning Li