You’re familiar with the golden rule, right? You know – do unto others as you would have them do unto you Have you adopted it in your leadership practices. Do you treat your employees, peers and boss as you would like to be treated? That’s a good thing, right? Are you sure? If you are treating others the way you would like to be treated, doesn’t that imply that you think that they’re just like you? That they want the same things that you do? Is that a safe assumption?

We all know that the reality is that, while we have certain things in common, we all have our individual preferences and desires. Therefore, perhaps the golden rule is not the best credo. So, what’s the alternative?What about the platinum rule which states “Do unto others as they would have done unto them.” See the difference . What do you think? What would the platinum rule mean for the way we interact with our staff and how we go about designing programmes to help them ? e.g. programmes to help improve their work-life balance?

During my tenure as an HR Manager for a financial conglomerate several years ago, I decided to ask employees how they would like to be recognized or rewarded. Some of the responses came as a complete surprise to me e.g. I’d like to have your executive parking space for a week so that I don’t have to drive around St. John’s every morning looking for parking. Something that I took completely for granted proved to be of great value to many of the staff. And the great thing about it is that it didn’t cost the company a penny for me to honor the request.

What about what it means for how we interact with our peers? Are we frustrated by colleagues who always seem to be marching to the beat of a different drum? What would happen if we tried to tune into their music/rhythm once in a while instead of always trying to get them to listen to ours?

Is it possible that the difference between the golden rule and the platinum rule is part of why we don’t get the expected/desired results when we organize events/activities for our staff? Could this be why some persons are not as grateful/appreciative as we expected them to be when we do things for them Maybe just maybe – they’re tired of gold and would like to be upgraded to platinum.

(First published on


  • Laurie

    I think that this is so timely for me right now. In showing appreciation to co-workers, it is vital that we consider their needs and wants. That experience that you related speaks volumes and underscores the point that sometimes it is not about the “big” things.

  • Thanks for sharing that feedback, Laurie. Our people feel so much more valued when they realize that we’ve taken the time to personalize the way we acknowledge and celebrate them, rather than adopting a generic/one-size-fits-all approach.

  • I totally agree with the shift in the “rules”, as its aligned with the shift in mindset that now see employees as critical resources to the sustainability and grow of the organisation. This view is unlike the draconian view of staff as an expense to be tolerated. I recall my few years as a senior level manager and experiencing the power of the “platinum rule” to significantly increase productivity and cooperation. As rightfully sated some of the incentives cost very little… yet were priceless.

    • Thanks for your comments, Troy. Those who have come to the realization of the value of the platinum rule need to evangelize to help spread the message.

      Looking forward to other comments from you as you review our other articles.

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