The Inverted Golden Rule
Leaders, who think they’re “special,” treat themselves better than others. They invert the Golden Rule and stand aloof. After all, the rules don’t apply to “Golden Leaders.”
Power and authority distort perspective.
- Expect others to collaborate while they dictate.
- Arrive unprepared for meetings.
- Expect others to listen while they don’t.
- Make promises but don’t follow through.
- Bend the rules for themselves but not for others.
Excuses abound for this foolishness. You were up half the night worrying about a deadline that no one else is worrying about. You worked late so you deserve to sleep in.
- You’re too busy to listen.
- You’re more committed than others.
- Your workload is so heavy you can’t prepare for meetings.
Exceptions for you disrespect them.
Connecting with people requires respect. Keeping people in their place, while you enjoy special exemptions, blocks connection.
What you expect from the team?
- Do you expect them to put their big girl dresses on and come to work on time after working late the night before?
- Do you expect them to put in for vacation-time when they leave early for Johnny’s baseball game?
- Is everyone expected at the company picnic, but you don’t make it? You expect them to socialize with each other but that expectation doesn’t apply to you.
Treat yourself like you treat others.
The rules that apply to others apply to you.
The next time you’re giving yourself special exemptions ask yourself if the members of your team have the same privilege. If they don’t, then you’ve inverted the Golden Rule and become the Golden Leader.
“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”
This post stings me. I have an inclination to think more highly of myself than others.
When are leaders exempt from the rules that apply to everyone else?
Great today Dan!!!!
Only thing I can come up with is Special Leaders are exempt bout two seconds after their last breath.
Shifterp back to Now!
An option besides death is a vital spiritual experience available to all who work the 12 Steps.
Might be a more palatable option over, you know death!! Hehe
SP back to now!!
Loved the title – pulled me right in. Appreciate your honesty at the end. Doing a lot of thinking around outdated management practices that have been around since the days of slavery http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/7182.html and what it really means to lead effectively. Re-read the Power Principle by Blaine Lee (now deceased) and re-reading the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and asking myself if Influencing with honor is possible as we battle with those parts of ourselves that are sometimes dark and self serving?
Leading is challenging. We have unspoken assumptions and a long history of what is expected of leaders.
Thanks for extending the conversation.
I sure think that leaders are exempt from the rules that apply to everyone else when they think they should feel MORE responsible than anybody else on their team. This does not give them more rights but an increased sense of responsibility and humility.
One issue with leaders who feel more responsible is they may be control freaks who overestimate their own importance and won’t let others take responsibility or authority … dang that sentence just popped out. 🙂
When leaders start believing that there is something more important than them. When they start thinking that mission is more important than leaders. When they start thinking that others make leaders. I agree that leaders start making distances when they treat them differently. At the same time, when leaders think that their position is bigger than them, then they start inviting ego. Such ego is always associated with vanity. So, feeling of being more important than others is contagious.
But when leaders start believing that others are more important, they start inviting empathy and humility. And when they start inviting humility, they apply rules to everyone.
Love the positive orientation you bring to this conversation.
Well said Ajay. True leadership realizes your people are the most important aspect of your organization.
your posts are great Thank you
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Thanks Dennis. I appreciate the good word.
Excellent post. Some more examples of entitlement:
-An entrepreneur/owner who declared “I’m an entrepreneur, so I don’t follow business processes” but was a stickler that other presumably less intelligent mortals do so and picked up the pieces of his lack of discipline.
-Deliberately displaying status like driving a very expensive car to work and parking in a special spot, insisting on flying first class and staying in the best hotels while whining about expense accounts.
-Describing fishing trips, expensive purchases, name dropping, etc. in the presence of those who can’t afford similar things, just to establish status and distance for pride and power.
-Disrupting schedules throughout the company by calling meetings suddenly when they could wait, asking that many attend, spending too much time in a top-down monologue, mostly for the theater of displaying authority.
-Adding items to get done on a short timetable according to the managers “flavor of the day” or whim, without linking them to strategic purpose.
-Making unrealistic promises or outright lying to make himself/herself look good, attract business, or attract financing, and expecting subordinates to somehow make those promises happen and to support the lies.
-Hoarding information and controlling the cross-silo flow of information to maintain control.
-Raising the voice, shutting people down, turning away, etc.
All of the above are things people in power do when they are put personal power and prestige above stewardship.
A steward leader subordinates his/her desires to furthering the organization’s purpose, building up its members, and satisfying its clientele. Jim Collins’ description of such a person is one who paradoxically combines passionate purpose with personal humility.
Moses, Daniel, Nehemiah, Jesus Christ, and the apostles Peter, Paul, and John come to mind as examples of selfless and effective leaders, in contrast to the nastiness and entitlement of Rehoboam.
Sounds like you’ve been around the block a time or two. Great examples.
Perhaps one issue is we build cultures that make it unacceptable to confront “golden” leaders. In other words, confronting and accountability flow in only one direction.
Yeah. I agree with you. But then, so many of them love their image of themselves.
This is when the trouble starts
We do get full of ourselves…for sure. I wish I’d thought of that language when I wrote the post..
“Perhaps one issue is we build cultures that make it unacceptable to confront “golden” leaders. In other words, confronting and accountability flow in only one direction.”
That’s a real issue Dan, thanks for pointing it out. I will not coach a leader unless he or she is open to me talking with their team and others. An enlightened leader is open, approachable and accountable.
YOu know you’re headed in the wrong direction when you leaders are untouchable.
It’s pretty tough for subordinates to have the courage to speak up. That’s where relationship comes to play. Leaders need to be relationally open to the degree that others can speak up.
There is a challenging tension of “one of” and “one above” … I like the idea of leader among equals. It involves the distinguishing of person and function. It’s a touch balance to achieve.
In all fairness, at least some of the above sounds like the average human, with the reservation that the average human has less opportunity. (And that higher standards should be applied to people in a leadership position.)
“Arrive unprepared for meetings.”
Most people for most meetings, in my experience.
“Expect others to listen while they don’t.”
I have encountered (but do not vouch for) the claim that the average person sees the part of a discussion where the other party is talking as time to think of what to say next…
“Make promises but don’t follow through.”
Most people at least some of the time. Some people most of the time.
“Bend the rules for themselves but not for others.”
I suspect that we all do or wish to do so from time to time.
I’m so glad you notice this. In one sense leading is employing basic behaviors. It’s not that hard… the issue in today’s post is leaders, who are filled with themselves, exempt themselves from these basics.
Hi Dan. May I suggest that we could refer to ‘the Special Leader’ as the Entitled Leader. I have worked for and am aware of leaders who sincerely believe they are entitled. In my experience most of these individuals were not always this way. They started out with enthusiasm, they were great team players, they constantly set positive examples for others to follow. These folks prepared themselves for promotional opportunities rather than rely on luck or nepatism. Somewhere along the way sucsess and accomplishment can cause one to feel a bit entitled. Dan I to struggle with the issue of pride. I can blame it on the way I was raised, the Marine Corps, or the sucsess I’ve enjoyed. Truth is it’s my own weakness and inability to recognize we are ALL the same. None us us is anymore entitled than the next guy. Continue to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, share with others your struggles and sucsesses, be willing to come along side others as a mentor, coach, as a true friend and lift them up. Nothing is as satistfying as helping others with not alterior motive other than to see others grow. Cheers my firend. We should do breakfast soon!
This post says a lot about the common pitfalls of some leaders who have been “intoxicated” by power and take their position as a privilege. This is the exact opposite of a servant leader. A servant leader is willing to give up self interest first for the benefit of others. They are willing to listen, emphatic and assume the role of a steward that is willing to make changes for the organization to make positive contribution to its people and society.
Reblogged this on IAm Synt.
Made me think of “Others can’t, but I can…”. An inversion of a leadership principle (others can, but I can’t” I was taught years ago.
Reblogged this on Red Stiletto-Beyond the 9-5 and commented:
Just read this article on leadership. It’s about not expecting more from others than you are willing to give. I realize that this speaks to my personal relationships as well- and maybe even more so. Every day, when I leave for work and I take a second and peek into the kids’ rooms to make sure their beds are made.. And every day, my goal is to make my bed before hubby gets home- at 8pm. After reading this article- I can imagine the rolling of all ten of their little eyes as I remind them that the world will end (yes, literally) if their beds aren’t made daily by noon. Welp, enjoy the article….I’ll be making my bed.
Sad but true. Power, which is oftentimes associated with the functions of a leader sometimes poisons the mind and one’s character. Leaders sometimes get carried away with the authority and power that is bestowed on them, that sometimes they think they are above all. The inverted Golden Rule is a gentle reminder that the best leaders or the genuine leaders are those who are aware that leadership is more of serving others than serving one’s self.