The Platinum Rule for Leaders

The Golden Rule says, “Do for others as you would have done for yourself.” This sentiment is contained in various forms in the writings of the major world religions. It has been the foundation for serving others in a helpful and meaningful way. BUT what if the things you want done for yourself are not what I want done for myself?

The Platinum Rule says in contrast, “Do for others as they would have done for them.” In this way we show respect for the diversity of values and norms of others we encounter at work and in everyday life.  When we show this respect, the way is open for us to be respected in turn.

In a pluralistic and international world of business, knowing, understanding, and respecting the cultures and traditions of the persons with whom we are working, keeps the door open for effective communication and collaboration. When we give respect and consideration, we are in a better position to be respected in turn and to receive what we need.

When I was a communication professor, my class was visited by potential young leaders from Japan whose company had brought them to the United States to improve their English proficiency.  When asked what they thought of American business practices, one of the group immediately said, “I don’t like the way you communicate with each other in meetings. You raise your voices, disagree, criticize, and interrupt each other. In Japan we are more respectful. In Japanese the verb comes at the end of the sentence so we have to listen to the entire message before we can understand and respond to the other’s ideas.” This is one example of how, by understanding another culture’s style of communication, we are able to listen, learn, and respond appropriately.

The Platinum Rule applies in everyday leadership too. Leaders promote the vision and strategy of what needs to be done to develop business and manage projects. The support of the team can be gained by communicating in the spirit of the Platinum Rule. When the leader asks, “What can I do to help you accomplish your task,” or “What do you need to complete this project,” teams can move forward with success. And their success becomes the leader’s success!

  • Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself. (Judaism)
  • Doing good to others is not a duty—it is a joy, for it increases your own health and happiness. Avesta (Zoroastrianism)
  • A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity. Gautama Siddhartha (Buddhism)
  • Be known for pleasing others, especially if you govern them. Ruling others has one advantage: you can do more good than anyone else. Lao Tzu (Confucianism)
  • Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. Tecumseh (Native American)
  • Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus Christ (Christianity)

© Dr. Ethan Raath 2013

Dr. Ethan Raath
Executive Leadership Consultant
Highwire Leadership LLC

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Walking the Leadership Highwire

Leadership can be likened to a high wire act. It takes practice to develop the skills to walk confidently, maintain balance, and stay focused. The higher you go the more challenging it becomes.

Gymnasts use a balance beam that has a wide enough base to perform challenging maneuvers. A lower level of leadership can be likened to walking the balance beam. There’s room to move and if you fall it’s not very far to the ground. You get back on and try again.

Leaders rise in their careers from the beam, to the mid level tight wire, to the highwire. Entrepreneurs may climb straight to the top. The risk increases and leadership becomes more complex the higher one goes. It takes greater courage, skill, and experience to traverse the highwire. It can be exhilarating and stressful at the same time. And if you don’t have a safety net, you fall, that’s it. I you survive the fall, it can be a long and hard recovery.

A high wire artist carries a bar to adjust to the shifts that can lead to a loss of balance. When there is a pull in one direction and then in another, the high wire artist doesn’t overcompensate. Once leaders find their balance point, they can make subtle adjustments to remain balanced.

Leaders know the experience of being pulled one way or the other by demands for results, unexpected crises, strained relationships, group conflicts, loss of valuable employees, drops in sales. In order to maintain your balance, find ways to develop your personal and professional abilities so you can skillfully make the necessary corrections that will keep you moving toward your vision of success.

In a high wire act, there is someone who prepares, encourages, and gives assurance to the artist. The wise leader doesn’t try to walk the highwire alone. As a leadership coach I can help you stay poised, keep focus, maintain confidence, access inner capacities, and equip with abilities necessary for maintaining poise, purpose, and productivity while progressing toward your desired outcome.

© Dr. Ethan Raath 2013

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