The Timeless Golden Rule of Leadership: Principal #1

By Rex Rolf, Career, Leadership and Performance Coach at Cornerstone Performance Group, LLC

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We’re all familiar with The Golden Rule “do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” That rule applies to all of us in life as well as in business. Thousands of books and whitepapers have been written on leadership development and the success factors that go along with it. New models are designed and promoted continuously, frequently by thought leaders and trainers seeking to remain fresh, modern, and relevant in the marketplace. Obviously innovation is key to moving forward and driving continuous improvement for any product, service or concept. But, when change is made for change’s sake, or new models become too complex and multi-layered, a typical leader can’t possibly retain and apply all of the “new” recommendations. Simpler proven methods and philosophies that offer common sense approaches are too often pushed to the side or deemed irrelevant because they are perceived to lack depth or having passed their shelf-life.

Whatever approach you embrace, there are still timeless behavior principals that are highly relevant today and will remain so for a long time to come. When these principals are lacking it doesn’t matter how sophisticated the process is, leaders won’t succeed over time. These proven ideals represent how most of us want to be treated and led by someone in authority. Ultimately, following a leader is a choice. A leader rarely knows with certainty how deeply a subordinate has dedicated themselves to him or her. Over the next several weeks I will be discussing timeless principals that are rooted in the Golden Rule of Leadership but with a new twist…”Lead Others So That They ‘Choose’ To Follow You.” Willingly following a leader and dedicating ourselves to his or her cause is a choice.

Ultimately, as leaders, isn’t that what we all want…people who choose to follow us so that we can accomplish something great?

Principal #1 – Declare How You Will Lead and What You Expect From Others:

As a senior leader you are ultimately responsible for the leadership behaviors of your subordinates. Obviously you cannot control the behaviors of others, but you can certainly influence proper leadership characteristics by communicating clearly what you expect from your leaders. Never allow a lack of understanding of your leadership preferences to be a reason why a subordinate does not adhere to them. Be clear in your mind what is expected and be prepared to make a compelling case for how you would like your subordinates to lead others. Once you declare how you will lead be clear as to how you want your subordinates to lead others. Employees want clarity, not ambiguity, regarding a boss’s leadership style and what he or she expects. Most of all employees want frequent communication, interaction and respect.

Base your leadership expectations in noble values that are rooted in personal ethics, human dignity, mutual respect, servant-hood, motivation, strong vision, frequent & consistent communication, and high achievement. The days of command and control and “do it because I said so” are over. Employees won’t put up with that any more, or at least not for very long. This is especially true of younger workers.

Subordinates do not want weak unprincipled leaders with no vision, drive or ethics. The American worker is looking for leader’s who will champion noble pursuits and unique ways to achieve them. These champions become heroes to their employees because other than sports, people don’t have champions in their lives much anymore. Are you a champion in the eyes of those you have influence over?