Monday, December 12, 2011

Is the Golden Rule Wrong?

Photo by earsaregood

The Golden Rule

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In one form or another, you've probably learned this ancient wisdom and its call to treat others with value, dignity, respect, and compassion.

That's good stuff...and good so far as it goes.

Leaders Need More

And yet...leaders who follow the golden rule can find themselves with unproductive and unmotivated teams.

What's going on here? How can you treat people with respect and dignity and still have problems?

Effective leaders and managers understand that people have individual personalities. You meet people where they are and provide them what they need to be effective.


If you are an introvert, content to be left alone and focus on your projects and you try to "do unto others as you would have done to you", you will find your extroverted team members wondering why you don't care.

If you enjoy the big picture and love ideas, your team members who need to understand details will quickly feel lost if you only give them the big picture you need.

If you prefer an especially indirect and tactful style of communication when others talk with you, your team members who need things said directly in plain language will wonder why you won't just say what's on your mind.

You get the idea - what works for us doesn't always work for others.

A New Rule

The Golden Rule isn't wrong - it serves an important role in helping us grow out of childish selfishness.

But effective leaders don't stop there. If you want your team members to be effective, you will:

Give them what they need, not what works for you.

Read More:
Take care,

David M. Dye

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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