The Platinum Rule for Project Managers, Grateful Best Practices

By Dr. Tresia D. Eaves

What if we were treated as WE wanted to be treated rather than the way the retailer, business, supervisor, partner, or other party wanted to treat us – based on their own paradigms? This is what the internet is bringing about: when we search for something on Google, ads get routed to us through various channels trying to sell us what WE want rather than what they think we want as they did before. This could also be transformational in business as a whole: performance management (you reward me in the ways I want to be rewarded, not some corporate standard based on what the company WANTS to give me) or in customer service where you give the customer choices, and they choose what works best for them. You are seeing great applications of this thought process in customer loyalty programs where people now have a choice of their rewards.

In this section, we explore applying “The Platinum Rule for Project Managers” as leaders and how Grateful Leadership (2013) by Judy Umlas compels us toward connection. Her “5 C’s of Acknowledgment” include: Consciousness, Choice, Courage, Communications, and Commitment all lead us toward Connection: with our teams, stakeholders, clients, et al. We talk so much about building “a brand” and I can’t help but wonder, what about truly building connection.  In the last edition, I mentioned connection as part of the Communication “C” of the “5 C’s of Acknowledgment” but really it applies to all five. Instead of building a brand, which seems very product focused to me, I suggest focusing on building connections. I’d focus on building relationships. Let the product folks build their product brands. As people, we add value by focusing on the people we work with, work for, and serve in our daily activities.

In order to build true connections, you have to bring your authentic self, which relates to the first of the “Cs” – Consciousness. There are many steps to being a conscious person and one is knowing yourself. Knowing your strengths, weaknesses, and being aware of your place in life. That means knowing what your mind, body, and spirit need and keeping all of that in balance. Once you have peace within yourself, you can be empathetic to others, and how they are feeling. This journey is the path to building your EQ or emotional quotient. Knowing yourself also means being willing to learn all through your life. Your capacity to learn never ages out, coming from someone who finished her Ph.D. at 50! Building your knowledge continues to expand you IQ (measure of intellect) as you go along in your career. This will allow you to follow The Platinum Rule by understanding how to treat others as they want to be treated: through your EQ and your IQ.

I believe connection is one of the keys to why so many people have trouble pinning down what makes a person a successful leader. Of course, no recipe for successful leadership is clearly defined. I believe most of us exist on a spectrum made of EQ and IQ traits. In Grit by Angela Duckworth (2016), the author makes the case for why grit is one of the keys to success. I agree with the author and as she concedes in the book, it is not the only trait that leads to success. It is part of the equation though because when we all make mistakes, it’s important to pick yourself up, learn from the experience, and go forward. As Duckworth also points out, there is a time to walk away: from a job, a boss, or a connection, and no amount of grit will heal a toxic relationship. Not all connections are worth saving.

During this global pandemic we’ve all lived through for two years now, what I really miss is connection. I’m an extrovert and I get a lot of my energy from interaction and connection. I’ve learned how to find satisfaction and energy in other ways besides “in person” connection and fortunately, I had a strong network before the pandemic. I treasure the real relationships I have with people I’ve worked with, worked for, laughed and cried with, helped with a propane heater during a once-in-a-lifetime ice storm that knocked power out of Texas for too many days, and going to the hospital where a friend needed her hair washed and her nails done as she battles for a transplant – even today. Real relationships take work and that work has to come from a genuine desire to help others. If we consider The Platinum Rule, we have to care enough to find out what a connection really needs. I’ve found that those are the best connections and they last a lifetime. They are not about what you plan to get from the relationship but they exist, are strong, and you never know when a person who is a true connection will be able to support you in a time of need, or you will help them. They might broker an introduction, refer you for a dream job, or send you a card of support when you really need it.

Learning to connect through virtual tools like Zoom, written cards, or just a phone call have helped me remain connected to my network during the pandemic. I’ve learned to modify my preferred “in person” method of connection but I’m not as good at connection via technology as I am in person. As we talked about in the last edition (which included one of the “5 Cs: Communication”), I struggle when I can’t see body language, don’t get true eye contact, or when I can’t hear the slight intonations of the voice. What I can still do is listen and that is a key to connection.  When you really listen to someone, even via technology, they feel seen, understood, and like they matter.

Connections are only a part of the definition of success. Leave the idea of building a brand or a network behind and focus on building real, meaningful connections. Sometimes people have such a strong connection with someone they work with, they will direct their career so that they can work with them again because they admire them, trust them, and want to learn from them. Sometimes, people do the same to work with and learn from you. This is the ultimate compliment to and acknowledgment of a leader and is a real measure of success in life. Are you doing everything you can to nurture your connections by applying The Platinum Rule? Even in a pandemic, you can make and strengthen connections. Use your EQ and your IQ to really understand what your connections need. This is a best practice of project managers and grateful leaders. Commit (another of the 5 Cs) to fostering connections however you can until we can all get back together again.

Dr. Tresia Eaves, PMP, SAFe Agilist, CSM, has 30 years of technology consulting and information technology leadership experience.  She is also an author, adjunct professor, public speaker, and proud veteran of the US Air Force.  She earned her Ph.D. in 2020 from the University of North Texas, and her area of study was Information Science. Dr. Eaves is a published author with her book, “Above and Beyond: The Secrets of Outstanding Project Leadership” published in 2014 by IIL and multiple other articles in professional and academic journals. She resides in Grapevine, Texas with her family. You can reach her at [email protected] or connect with her on LinkedIn at: