6 Managing Legal Risks in Early Childhood Programs
IS ONE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS FAIRER
THAN THE OTHER?
Leadership requires maturity. Knowing when to use compassion and
when to strictly follow the rules is a judgment call we make in the mo-
ment. Most situations, like individuals, are complex.
Neither decision-making process is superior to the other. However,
people passionately argue that their definition of fairness is superior.
You are judged by how well you judge. Awareness of your favored pro-
cess and/or definition of fairness is empowering.
If you do not have to make an immediate decision, step back to
theoretically apply both processes to the situation. Ask yourself: Which
process and decision feels “right” to me? Does my conscience cause
me to cringe when I use either of these processes? Our sense of right-
ness deepens with each decision we make (Gladwell, 2005). Sometimes,
second-guessing yourself is more debilitating than productive. Ask
yourself: “Is my decision fair enough?” If your answer is “yes,” move
on. Another decision awaits your attention anyway. (See Appendix:
Later in this chapter, we will look at what takes place on a cellular
level when we make decisions. You may find this neurobiological infor-
mation liberating or at least useful. Knowing that our “gut” decisions
are often our best decisions builds trust in our own judgment. That
trust and our underlying confidence make decisions less ponderous to
make. One final word: Although you may see yourself as preferring one
definition of fairness over another, know that both processes are avail-
able to you. If a letter-of-the-law decision doesn’t sit well with your con-
science, be open to making a more “equitable” decision. If your highly
interpersonal decision feels off, ask what you would do if you were that
12th-century judge. Would his letter-of-the-law decision feel fairer to
you? Knowing your options helps as legal dilemmas break open.
Here is another process emerging from our legal history that will
help you as a decision maker: due process. Using due process enhances
the fairness of your decisions.
DUE PROCESS MODEL OF FAIRNESS
If you tell Clarence you are serving pizza for lunch, but instead sub-
stitute chicken fingers and broccoli, you expose yourself to Clarence’s
scowling: “No fair!” Even with the best of reasons, your changing of an