Why Leaders Should Challenge the Golden Rule

August 22, 2019  |  Posted by in Leadership Development, Relationship Building

We’ve all heard the saying, “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” and, for the most part, it’s good advice. In fact, most of us can probably agree that pausing to think about how our words or actions might affect others before we actually say or do anything is the “right” thing to do. In order to be trusted and respected in both our careers and our daily lives, it’s always important to make sure we’re considering others’ thoughts and feelings rather than just our own.

What is the Leadership Golden Rule?

When it comes to leadership, however, these traditional words of wisdom might be better stated as, “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” At least this is what Gallup suggests in its book titled, First, Break All the Rules. The book studies some of the most successful managers, measured by their ability to turn their employees’ talents into high performance. Gallup’s research findings suggest that one of the most prominent traits of successful managers is their ability to capitalize on their individual employees’ unique talents.

Capitalizing on employees’ individual talents means that managers must treat each employee differently. By nature, treating everyone differently contradicts the conventional wisdom of “treat others the way you want to be treated,” which implies that everyone wants to be, and should be, treated the same way.

Rather than identifying a “model” employee and trying to create clones of this employee throughout his/her team, a great manager will instead work one-on-one with each of his/her employees to identify their unique talents, and then continually work with each employee to further strengthen those unique talents. In this sense, then, the most successful managers go out of their way to treat their employees differently. By treating their employees the way they want to be treated, these managers are encouraging growth, development and high performance at the individual level.

As a sales manager, think about the performance of your sales team. Is there improvement to be made? Is your team not performing at the level you think they are capable of? If so, consider your management style. Are you prone to following the “model employee” approach where you try to coach your other employees to do things the way your “model” employee does? If so, maybe you should consider adjusting your management style. Try instead to focus on truly understanding your employees’ individual talents and differences and then encourage them to further strengthen those talents and differences.

By encouraging your individual employees to strengthen their talents and be more themselves you will increase each individual’s performance, and ultimately, increase the performance of your entire sales team.

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