I recently attended a Dale Carnegie continuing education seminar, and I have to say, it was a good one. I’ve been to more than a few of these types of seminars and some are definitely better than others. One lesson continues to surface: break the Golden Rule.

I see you getting ready to call HR. Put the phone down. I’m not suggesting that we mistreat colleagues – I’m advocating for the opposite. The meaningful development of people comes in part from an ability to lead and mentor others based on who they are and what they need – not from following the same steps or teaching everyone to form the same habits based on what works best for us. Counterintelligence professionals (who perhaps know people better than anyone else) have dubbed this practice the “Platinum Rule,” and you can (actually should) learn more about it here.

It always seems like thought leaders, disruptors, hackers, and everyone else trying to convince us that they’ve reinvented the wheel and are pushing one new innovation after the other when it comes to getting more out of our workforce. But I’ll tell you right now, no office floorplan or baller snack closet replaces the feeling of being seen, heard, and understood by those who lead you. So if you’re someone who leads, follow me down this way of thinking:

  1. Good leadership requires that we know our people deeper than their projects and calendars.
  2. Good leadership requires that we understand what motivates, inspires and even scares them.
  3. Good leadership requires diving headfirst into the messy business of humanity and extracting the best from it.
  4. Good leadership doesn’t leverage; it elevates.

So next time you hold a one-on-one with your direct report, rethink the ‘same as always’ approach and you’re likely to get better results in the long run.