Article by: MaryEllen | Monday, October 15, 2018

By MaryEllen Tribby

By now even non-tennis enthusiasts have heard and/or seen the debacle that took place during the US Open Ladies Finals. You know what I’m talking about. The match between legendary tennis superstar Serena Williams and up-and-comer Naomi Osaka.

I have been discussing this with just about everyone who I have come in contact with on and off the court.

As you know my house is a literal sports arena. With three children, all of whom are elite athletes, we rarely miss a major sporting event.

And as Delanie, my 13-year-old is training to become a professional tennis player, we were not only glued to our seats during this final, we were saddened by the occurrence as well.

But before we go into how EVERYONE can actually learn and benefit from this unfortunate incident, let’s recap . . .

Serena was given a code violation for coaching at 40 – 15 in the first game of the second set and a second code violation for smashing her racquet after double faulting. This put Naomi back on serve.

Now here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Serena’s coach admitted to the coaching. And that first violation of coaching was a warning – there were no point penalties. Next Serena got a point penalty after smashing her racquet (which she clearly did).

Then it got really interesting.

Serena would not let it go. She kept going at the official, shouting that he stole a point from her, that he was a thief. Finally, she got her third violation for verbal abuse which cost her a game.

Now you have heard all of Serena’s comments, that it was sexist, that it was racist, etc. . .

And whether you agree with Serena or not here are the facts:

  • Serena was actually correct in saying that men have done much worse on the court and have not gotten fined.
  • Serena’s coach was correct in saying other coaches have signaled to the players on court and have not gotten called out for it.
  • Commentators may be correct in stating that the official shouldn’t have been so quick to fine Serena an entire game.

But guess what?

It doesn’t matter – the official had every right to do what he did!

Just because others haven’t gotten fined doesn’t mean her behavior was acceptable.

Perspective Makes a Huge Difference

Let’s put things in perspective, shall we?

Let’s say you and your hubby are out for the evening and leave 7-year Becky and 5-year-old Tommy home with the babysitter. Tommy decides to smack Becky in the face with his truck. The babysitter gets ice for Becky and wipes her tears, but she does not punish or even talk to Tommy about his actions.

The next day while you are home, the kids’ cousin Peggy comes over to play. Peggy does exactly what Tommy did the night before and smacks Becky in the face with the truck. Only this time you leap into action and immediately put Peggy in time out.

Now are you punishing Peggy because she’s a girl? Are you sexist?

Of course not!

You are punishing Peggy because it is the right thing to do. (Are you getting my point here?)

Here’s another example:

You are driving in a school zone and running late for your meeting. Instead of following the 20 mile per hour speed limit, you floor it to 25 miles per hour. Well that policeman doesn’t really care about your meeting, he pulls you over and gives you a ticket.

When you tell him you have seen many, many people drive over the speed limit hundreds of time, he doesn’t budge. He is concerned about the children’s safety and follows the law. . .

. . . because in life and in business there must be guidelines.

And frankly fairness is good management.

Treating people with respect and dealing with everyone in a fair and open matter are just two essential requirements for success as a manager, entrepreneur, business owner and human being.

If you have ever worked for someone who plays favorites or who treats people with different standards of accountability and performance, you appreciate how destructive this approach is to morale.

Establishing different sets of rules for different people is the opposite of fairness and creates ill will, poor morale and less than ideal performance.

And nothing kills revenue faster than this. So, if you want to see your bottom-line really blossom make sure you and your management team follow these seven elemental rules:

  • The golden rule: Treat everyone you encounter as you would like to be treated. ‘Nuf said!
  • No favorites: Don’t play favorites. Don’t give anyone all the good jobs, or all the bad jobs, just because of how you feel about them. You treat them as the distinctive personalities they are.
  • Don’t take advantage: When you’re being fair, you don’t take advantage of others based on your position. You don’t treat someone unfairly just because you can get away with it.
  • Model the rules and behaviors: When you follow the rules and apply them equally to everyone, you are being fair. Make sure you apply them to yourself as well. Your “do” must match your “tell,” or people will lose trust in you. Walk the walk!
  • Change the rules: If you sense that the rules are unfair certain individuals or groups, foster the courage to change the rules. Just be sure that the reason you are changing it really is to increase fairness, and not just to justify an outcome that might be better for a favorite. Make sure the new rule is applied equally for all.
  • Think about how it affects others: As you assign work, for example, think about whether you are doing it fairly, but also consider how others will perceive it. How does this rule affect them and is it fair?
  • Be honest: Be honest with your team. Tell them why things are done as they are. Tell them why a specific procedure was put in place. And be honest with yourself too. Look at why and how you’re doing the things.

Credibility is critical to the success of every business. Nothing destroys credibility faster than the reputation that you play favorites or deal with people on an inconsistent basis.

The benefits of cultivating a reputation as a manager and business owner who deals with people in a fair manner are priceless.