The following is an excerpt from Dare To Serve:
The stories of prisoners of war are both heart-breaking and inspiring. Our hearts break for the horrible things done to prisoners to defeat their dignity. And then we hear the story of the prisoner who was not defeated. Through intense focus, meditation or prayer, exercise, and communicating with other prisoners, the person’s identity was intact. Their dignity survived. We are amazed at their story.
Without dignity, identity is erased.~ Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken
In these extraordinary circumstances, we can readily agree that every person deserves dignity. Unfortunately, in the ordinary circumstances of the workplace, we are more careless with human dignity. We spend little time listening to our people. We are impatient with their imperfections. We expect them to listen to our problems and ideas, but express no interest in theirs. And at the extreme, we humiliate; we publicly criticize and embarrass; we joke in ways that hurt.
Dare-to-Serve Leaders care deeply about protecting the dignity of people that work with them. This belief is evident in their daily actions.
They practice a simple rule, the Golden Rule. Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.
This one rule covers a host of circumstances. If you push your daily situations through a filter of what you would like someone to do for you, wouldn’t you want to be listened to? Wouldn’t you want the boss to be patient with your imperfections? Wouldn’t you want them to take time to give you honest feedback and a clear development plan?
In a more difficult situation, where you are not performing up to expectations, wouldn’t you want the Golden Rule to apply? Wouldn’t you want to know where you stand?
Every individual, including those having performance difficulties, deserves dignity. They deserve private conversations about the matter, away from public settings. They deserve thoughtful, specific examples to help them understand. They deserve time to absorb the feedback and time to work on personal improvement. If it becomes clear that they cannot stay in the job, they deserve help in understanding what strengths they have that will serve them well in another role.
Most leaders claim to value human dignity; far too many discard it quickly when under pressure at work.
Leaders who are stuck in the spotlight may even ignore or demean other people as a perverse way of keeping the attention on themselves.
Alternatively, if you apply the Golden Rule and treat others as you would want to be treated, you will take yourself out of the spotlight, and better serve your team.
The Dare-to-Serve Leader sees each individual as a unique and valuable human being, worthy of dignity. And they treat them accordingly.