Most of us are familiar with the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” However, this rule implies the basic assumption that other people would like to be treated the way that you would like to be treated. Most people are not as familiar with the Platinum Rule. Dr. Tony Alessandra coined this term and teaches that we should “treat others the way they want to be treated.” The focus shifts from what we want to understanding what someone else wants and then giving it to them. The Platinum Rule is more challenging because we have to look beyond our own preferences and take time to understand what truly motivates others. However, the results are worth it because you truly honor people when you treat them the way they want to be treated.
I was reminded of the Platinum Rule in my interview this week of David Reeves who serves as President and CEO of the Metropolitan YMCAs of Mississippi. Reeves, a native of Lubbock, Texas, earned a degree in in Recreational Management at Texas Tech University. After graduating college, Reeves accepted a position with the Department of Defense working in Guam. He shared, “I felt this was a great start in my training of being a leader because it really took me out of my comfort zone. It helped me to realize at an early time in my career the importance of differences in cultures and beliefs, and by taking the extra time to let others be heard, and know their opinion matters it is much easier to get people to follow.”
After leaving the DOD, Reeves took a position with YMCA and has remained with the organization for the last 27 years. After serving in several leadership positions, he took his current role in 2004. The Metropolitan YMCAs of Mississippi has $7.5 million budget and 6 facilities encompassing 14 counties (25,000 members) located across the state of Mississippi. Reeves shared, “My first YMCA boss had a large influence on my leadership style. I remember after I got the job he said it would be one of the easiest and best jobs ever. I only had to work half a day six days a week. What I did with the other 12 hours and on Sundays was entirely up to me. Working with him made me realize the importance of humor, but that also as a leader quantity of work does matter because others are always watching.”
Reeves also noted the important influence his sister had on his development as a leader. He shared, “Her ability to make everyone feel valued is incredible. I’ve learned from her that by valuing the people you work with, they become much more like a family than and employee, and their loyalty is immense as is my loyalty to them.” Reeves also explained, “I don’t think there is one leadership philosophy that ever fits all situations or circumstances so I try to always and remember to break the golden rule. I don’t worry about treating people how I want them to treat me, because what motivates me may do nothing for you. If someone is worth working with then they’re worth knowing and appreciated in a way that they actually appreciate.”
Reeves and his dedicated staff are making a positive difference in the communities they serve around the state of Mississippi. I came away inspired by Reeves’ focus on understanding how to truly motivate and inspire others by honoring them and showing appreciation in a personal and authentic way.
» Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.
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