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Throw Out the Golden Rule to Lead with Platinum

Executive Women in Leadership Roles
Since early childhood many children are taught to live life by certain foundational tenets. One of those, which usually stands out more than most, is called the Golden Rule. When asked what the Golden Rule is almost everyone can recite, “Do unto others as you would like done unto you,” or in layman’s terms, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” This approach may good advice in most circumstances, yet it falls short of what is required of exceptional leaders.
Therefore, professional women desirous of setting themselves apart to become exceptional leaders must reach for a higher standard, one that reaches beyond gold to platinum. The “platinum” standard of leadership states, “Treat others as they want to be treated.” This leadership approach is must less narcissistic and requires a significant investment in time, energy and compassion.
When leading solely with the Golden Rule it is as if all subordinates are nails and the leader is a hammer. There is only one approach to leading, what is more than likely, a team of very different people. And, like a nail, after awhile, most team members will get beaten down.
Professional women in leadership roles probably will have an advantage in applying the platinum standard over their male counterparts as it requires a person-centered approach that involves empathy and compassion for others. It’s not that men don’t possess those traits but they come more natural for women. If applied properly the platinum approach can be of tremendous value when leading others.
Great leaders of championship sports teams know they cannot motivate all team members the same way. Some players need to be motivated through a comforting arm around their back with an explanation of the value their commitment and hard work means to the success of the team. Others need a swift kick in the pants and tongue lashing to get them going. A good example of leading with the Golden Rule in athletics is recently retired college basketball coach Bobby Knight, who often times got in hot water when videotapes would catch him in the act of being the hammer coming down on some of his players as if they were nails.
Likewise, many times business leaders have a tendency to treat members of their teams the same way, when in fact everyone is motivated by different things in different ways and even are impacted by the different stages of life. Especially in today’s world where baby boomers are working side by side with Gen Xers and Gen Yers, if the same leadership style is used to motivate each, someone’s going to be missing the point.
The platinum leadership standard commands that professional women get to know the people they are leading and what motivates them as individuals and as professional colleagues. When this is the focus, the leader’s primary job is to help their team members get what they want the way they want it, within the parameters of the role for which they are fulfilling in the organization.
This approach will show team members that the leader cares for them as individuals and that they are not just a means to an end. It is a very empowering leadership style, one that creates a tight, long-term reciprocal bond between the leader and their team. Leading with the platinum standard is worth the investment in time, energy and resources. Give it a try.
Written originally for by Skip Weisman