Avoiding the Leadership “Golden Rule” Trap
by Leadership Keynote Speaker Connie Podesta
Even those who appear to be remarkably humble and self-aware can fall for this one.
As children, most of us were taught “the golden rule”: we should treat others the way we want to be treated. Definitely, a great mantra for life. The world needs more kindness and consideration. No arguments there.
But as leaders, this deeply ingrained belief could be inadvertently reducing our effectiveness.
Think about that for a moment. If we treat all of our team members the way we want to be treated, we are automatically assuming their preferences and needs are exactly the same as ours. That assumption could be driving everything about the way we approach the leadership role. How we communicate. Collaborate. Motivate. Mentor. Provide feedback. The whole enchilada.
But we’re following the golden rule, so it must be a great strategy. Right?
In this case, no. We could be operating from the faulty belief that our way is the best way—and everyone else will surely love and appreciate our personal style as a leader. Which may or may not be true.
It’s a hidden trap disguised as being thoughtful and considerate.
So what’s the solution?
To improve your effectiveness, adjust your leadership style for your team members in the same way you might adjust to a customer’s buying style in sales. And that means really getting to know your employees.
Are they right-brained (more creative and artistic)? Left-brained (more analytical and methodical)? Or somewhere in the middle?
Are they extroverts (outgoing and social)? Introverts (work well on their own)? Or ambiverts (a mix of both)?
As a leader, it’s your job to figure out what you can do to help the individuals on your team reach their full potential. Rachel might prefer a just-the-facts, cut-to-the-chase approach, while Kevin wants to know that you care about his weekend plans and latest hobby.
Consider what they need, rather than what you would want.
Once you find out what makes people feel most connected to the mission, you can make an effort to lead in a way that works best for THEM. Through your willingness to adapt your style to their needs, you can gain a significant advantage in the quest to improve employee engagement, commitment, and performance.
Treating others the way you want to be treated is a great rule for life. But as a leader, you can reach higher levels of success if you quit leading everyone the same way.
To learn more about this topic, check out my short video, “Quit Leading Everyone the Same,” which is part of my series called Top 10 Things You Need to Quit to Be a Better Leader. Click here to watch this video, or check out others on my YouTube channel.