Golden Rule

The Golden Rule: Leaders Shouldn’t Follow It…It’s Cursed

Treat others as ‘they’ want to be treated!

The golden rule is advocated by all the great world religions; Jesus, Hillel, and Confucius used it to summarize their teachings. For thousands of years the concept has been influential among people of various cultures all over the world. As children we have had this ingrained in us and as adults we enforce the behaviors of the golden rule in our children. These facts suggest that the golden rule is an important truth.

Yet it is this very golden rule that is cursed when it comes to the effect of leadership on employee engagement and employee morale. What? You think I’m crazy? That’s besides the point.  Just think about this. I love chocolate but that is no reason to use it as bait when fishing. To be successful I must use what appeals to the fish – worms, even if it does not appeal to me. You will not win the hearts and minds of all employees using the criteria that engages you. In this situation the golden rule is a curse and creates a negative impact on employee morale and employee engagement. See…the golden rule is cursed.

During a team building session, a team leader apologized to the rest of the team for constantly giving them challenges. “Challenges light my fire, and I thought this worked for everyone”.  He had been fishing with chocolate!

Some employees are motivated by challenges, others can feel ‘used’ by this same behavior. Not everyone needs to be openly appreciated. Not everyone will be happy when you offer your help. Perks and bonuses do not work for all. The golden rule is a curse for leadership development.

The most successful leaders know their people and know how they need to be treated to add value and create worth. They are approachable. They have open, collaborative lines of communication. They may ask questions like “What do you need from me as your team leader?” “0-10 score me on how I match against those criteria?” “Do you have suggestions as to how I can improve those scores?”. They do this because they know the golden rule is a curse and assuming they know the answer will backfire.

The leader may not be able to give individuals what they are looking for as she will have restrictions and needs of her own. However, the crucial thing is that employees sense a willingness from the leader to understand them and a willingness to meet their needs if it were possible. By giving her employees what they don’t normally get she will get from them what they don’t normally give…engagement.

[youtube][/youtube] To avoid the curse of the golden rule, learn about the Work with Me Chart. This report is available in the Beyond Morale Online Employee Engagement System.

Featured in Alltop
Employee Engagement Pocket Cards
7 Keys to Employee Engagement
Why 360s Don’t Work
Averting the Leadership Crisis