You are undoubtedly familiar with the original golden rule, “treat others as you would like them to treat you.” I say original because the golden rule has been appropriately modified over the years to now read, “treat others as they would like to be treated.”
Treating others as they would like to be treated does make more sense than just applying your standards to everyone, but it is much more difficult to accomplish. When you subscribe to that rule, you are dedicating yourself to getting to know each and every person that matters in your life, their strengths and weaknesses, preferences, values, and purposes. That is no small undertaking. The original golden rule only required you to know yourself, which is much easier to do by comparison.
When you aspire to be an effective leader, the challenge becomes even greater. Not only do you need to treat everyone around you the way they would like to be treated, you also need to lead them in a way that helps them to develop and grow at a pace that is tailored to their individual abilities, personalities, and motivations.
The same is true in parenting. Love your kids equally, of course. Instill values and do the best that you can to give them the tools that they will need to grow into happy and engaged adults, you bet. Raise them all the same, no way.
The adapted golden rule intertwines with the belief that we are all unique and that our greatest attribute is the ability to be true to ourselves, to figure out who we really are and then focus on being the best version of that person possible. No two employees are exactly alike even if they are trained in the same atmosphere by the same people for the same role just like no two kids are exactly alike even if they grow up in the same household, listening to the same parents, who are espousing the same values and virtues.
As a leader, parent, or anyone responsible for teaching, developing, and mentoring others, you will be much more effective in your role if you are aware that you are surrounded by people who are individually unique, individually motivated, and following their own individual time lines.
What does all of this mean to you? It means that fulfilling your role to the best of your ability is much more about being alert to when your employee, student, or child is ready to take the next step then it is about when you are ready for them to take that next step.
If you were to evaluate an employee’s readiness for promotion based on how long it took you to be ready for that same promotion when you were coming up through the ranks, you are doing that employee a disservice and ignoring that individual’s unique skillset and learning curve.
If you limit your parental decision making to what you were able to do or not do when you were growing up, you are also turning a blind eye to the changes that have taken place around you as you grew to adulthood and ignoring the many things that have evolved in our society during that time.
Time on the job is important. Gaining experiences in life is only something that can happen with time, but career tenure or age cannot be the only factors that determine how capable a person is or how mature they are.
Many CEO’s spend years learning a business and working their way through good times and tough times in order to hone their skills enough to be qualified to lead an organization. Many, but not all. There are plenty of examples of leaders who had the requisite skills and confidence to lead a business with very little time on the job or even proof that they had the experience to be effective in the role.
The law states that a child becomes an adult when he or she reaches the age of 18. I certainly know plenty of people who are considered an adult in age only. Conversely, there are absolutely people who are considered a minor because of their age but are mature and capable well beyond their years.
A strong leader is ready to lead regardless of circumstances or the skillset of his or her employees.
A dedicated parent is alert and ready to be there for their kids regardless of the time of day or night or the nature of the need.
Effective leaders and parents also know that their job is never really done and that it certainly does not stop when they think the employee they are developing or the child they are raising is ready for the next step. One step evolves into the next and the objective for all of us should be to continue to learn and to challenge ourselves to improve upon what we know, add to our strengths, and continue to address our weaknesses.
Accepting that, if you do your job well as a leader or as a parent, you will continually help your employees and kids to grow and prosper, just don’t fool yourself into thinking that it will be accomplished entirely on your timetable. In fact, if you really do your job well, your employees and/or your kids will be ready for more before you know it.
Will you be ready?
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.