The Benefit of the Doubt – do you round up in leadership?
Leadership is about the hard choices. And I’m not sure I made the right one today. I teach in the Leadership Minor at the UofM and grades are due today. I love the work, the grading I could do without. And today I’m torn – do I round up?
I want to believe that I come from a place that honors students, their efforts, their growth and ultimately give them the benefit of the doubt. Yet today I am challenged by whether or not to round up and give the student who earned a 69.7% in the class a C- (vs. D+).
When does rounding up not serve us?
- Competency is compromised. This was the 3rd of 4 courses in the Minor. The next class relies heavily on students having developed the competencies to be successful in the next course. To take initiative and to build relationships that allow them to have a bigger reach than they did in this course is vital to their learning in the course that follows.
- The team will suffer. Often times we experience being on teams where people rely, or take advantage of their teammates to do all the work. I know providing this student the benefit of the doubt by rounding up might be putting the next work team, or entire class community, at a disadvantage because they haven’t been able to sufficiently demonstrate what’s needed to succeed in this course. They learned what to do to just “pass” through.
- The bar is set for the future. If this was the difference between a B and an A I would not be writing this post. This, though, is the difference between passing the entire class or having to retake it before going on. F*%k – leadership is hard. Honoring, or rewarding, this level of work is also saying that this threshold is “fine” for future work. This doesn’t set well with me.
Up to this point, you might think I’m a hard-ass when it comes to grading. This isn’t the case, as many of my students can attest to by the grades they’ve earned. Positivity, according to Gallop’s StrengthsFinder, is my top strength. I love to champion and nudge people. I want them to be successful. But, I’m also consistent. Consistent in my approach. Consistent in thinking this work isn’t going to cut it moving forward. Consistent in believing there was more to be done.
Rounding up allows this student to take the next class in the Minor. This situation reminds me of my days working in HR, when “problem” employees bounced from department to department because no one had the balls to give them a bad review. I never wanted to be that supervisor who “passed” someone along to another department knowing there was a problem.
I guess I don’t have the moxie today. I entered the “C-“ for the student.
This is one of the few times, where I’m not quite sure that giving someone the benefit of the doubt by rounding up will serve them or the greater good. Leadership is about understanding multiple perspectives, and I want to continuing developing – what would you have done in this case?