The Platinum Rule “Treat others the way they want to be treated”
We've all heard of the Golden Rule, which goes something like this: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. In other words, treat other people--in business and in life- the way you want to be treated.
Well, Dave Kerpen, author of the book The Art of People, says that following the Golden Rule is all wrong. Instead, we should follow what he calls the Platinum Rule.
Says Kerpen, "We all grow up learning about the simplicity and power of the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would want done to you. It's a splendid concept except for one thing: Everyone is different, and the truth is that in many cases what you'd want done to you is different from what your partner, employee, customer, investor, wife, or child would want done to him or her."
So Kerpen came up with the Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would want done to them. Says Kerpen, "The Golden Rule, as great as it is, has limitations, since all people and all situations are different. When you follow the Platinum Rule, however, you can be sure you're actually doing what the other person wants done and assure yourself of a better outcome."
The Platinum Rule is a foundational element of building a respectful, inclusive culture. It’s the first step in acknowledging differences and supporting those differences in a positive manner.
How to build an inclusive culture
So how do we create an inclusive culture? Simply being inclusive, is the best way to start.
Take the time to get to know your team. When you understand more details about your team, you'll understand what things make them tick. What are their concerns, goals, and career objectives? Tailoring your leadership style and organizational structure to the goals of your employees will help your organization become effective.
Treat each person as the individual that he or she is. Trying to make people conform will naturally make your culture less inclusive. Allow them to bring their authentic selves to work. Conformity at work is important for some processes, but flexibility for employees to be their natural selves will help them feel more comfortable and included.
Share your own background and experiences. When you take time to share your story and connect with people on a more personal level, you give them a perspective, and naturally become a more inclusive leader.
Get different perspectives before making decisions. When we've been in the workplace or doing our jobs for a number of years, it becomes very easy to revert to doing things the way that we've always done it. The most common thing heard in the workplace in my opinion is. “That's the way we've always done it.” That doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. Getting a different perspective before making a decision will ensure that you're not only inclusive, but helps validate that you're making good decisions and ultimately, that will drive to business success.
Find the unique skills of each individual and celebrate them and support them in soaring with their strengths. By focusing on what people are good at, you will naturally incentivize them to do more of that skill. As you build your team, thinking about those different skills and complimentary skills can help you become a better team builder and actively seek to understand different points of view.
Not everybody will agree with what you do. You will not always agree with others. Understanding the viewpoints that they have will help you become a more inclusive leader.
Finally, adapt your communication or working style to meet the needs of your audience. Certain individuals will prefer direct, clear, and succinct communication. While some individuals may appreciate more communication, and more constant feedback and validation. It doesn't mean that one method is right or wrong, but being adaptable will ensure that you are creating an inclusive and effective culture.
A few examples of behaviors you can try:
1. Establish a buddy system that connects each new associate with a veteran associate to help show them the ropes. By giving somebody a mentor, you are supporting them in their journey within your organization. As you have new employees join your organization, if they learn that you are supportive of their journey from the beginning, they will be more supportive of your organization. It's also great for the mentor to have a mentee, and a great way to recognize a top performer.
2. Find ways of challenging the status quo. Disruption will always be present in a workplace. If you find ways to positively disrupt processes and policies in positive ways, it's not only healthy for your organization, but it's also a great way to build an inclusive culture.
3. Foster an atmosphere of flexibility and learning. As you learn and develop yourself, ensure that others understand that you are resilient and adaptable, that you listen, and that you are flexible and that you expect others to be the same way. It all starts with leadership.
Be Platinum. Gold is so "Old School".
I'm the Vice President - Human Resources for CPM Holdings, Inc. In this role, I oversees the aspects of Human Resources for 27 domestic and international locations in 11 countries. I've previously held progressive HR roles for Fortune 500 organizations.