The ‘Golden Rule’ is ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.’Instead, I believe we should do unto others as they would
have others do unto them—as long as it's aligned with our values.
--- Anthony Silard
When we follow the ‘Golden Rule’, we project our values onto others and often give them what we—rather than they—desire.
The alternative—expressing genuine empathy—can be challenging.
Do you spend a lot of your work day listening to others? Do you sometimes feel frustrated that your efforts do not seem to be reciprocated? Does it sometimes feel like others think, “She or he is doing OK. I don’t need to be there for them.”
If you are in a leadership role, you are not alone. As it turns out, leaders are in a particularly vulnerable position when it comes to empathy.
According to an empirical study by Ginka Toegel of IMD Business School in Switzerland, the empathy leaders express toward their followers tends to go unreciprocated.
Why? While leaders view their expressions of empathy toward their followers as “extra-role behavior”—in other words, not a part of their job description—followers hold a contrary view. They consider leader empathy to be a part of the leader’s job description, or “in-role behavior.”
“The leader is acting like they care about my personal and professional issues,” followers tend to think, “because they know that’s the best way to motivate me to perform better.”
The sad thing is that, at least on some level, followers are correct.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday every other week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).