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Powerful Leadership: Do Unto Others As They Would Want Done

I recommend you revise the Golden Rule. Let me explain.
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​This past week, I pissed off a major business partner. I can't get into all the details, but, in essence, I added my own sales force to my product his team had been selling. I truly thought he would be thrilled to have more support selling the product. After all, I reasoned, if one of my partners added more people to a joint venture, I would be very happy.

The Golden Rule, right? Wrong. He wasn't happy. In fact, he was furious--angry I didn't tell him about my plans in advance, upset that he might be wasting his own resources, and generally disappointed in me and the partnership.

When I thought about it, I realized--from his perspective--I may not have been helping. I may have been seen as meddling, or distrusting, or just wrong. And his perspective is what counted--not mine.

For years, I've written about the simplicity and power of the Golden Rule in business: 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, in many cases what you'd want done to you is different from what your partner, employee, customer, or investor would want done to them.

So I came up with the 'Platinum Rule': Do unto others as they would want done to them.

The Platinum Rule is decidedly more difficult than the Golden Rule. It's easy to know what you'd want, but it's much harder to truly put yourself in another person's shoes, walk around, and understand his/her perspective.

​While it's harder to do that, it's much more powerful in business, and in life. The Golden Rule, as great as it is, has limitations, since all people and all situations are different. When you take the time to truly listen and understand the point of view of the other person in a situation, walk in her shoes, and feel empathy, only then can you do what she'd want done--and assure yourself of a better outcome.

If I had applied the Platinum Rule in the business relationship I described, I certainly would have first talked to my partner about my plan, and avoided an unfortunate outcome. Next time, I'll remember: Platinum trumps Gold.

Now it's your turn.  How have you applied the Platinum Rule to situations in business and in your life? Let me know in the comments section below.

And share this article with your network--after all, that's what I would want.

Last updated: Jun 11, 2013

DAVE KERPEN | Columnist | CEO, Likeable Media

Dave Kerpen is the CEO of Likeable Local. He is also the cofounder and chairman of Likeable Media and the New York Times bestselling author of Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business. Want to learn about how to grow your business using social media in 2 minutes? Click here.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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