Leadership Quality: respect

If there’s one thing I know is that people want to be respected.  If there’s another thing I know it is that so few people feel their leaders respect them.  

So many people feel disrespected, disregarded, and detached from their leaders.  

I emphasize the word feel because many leaders will try to use their own assessment of or self-proof that they are respectful of those they lead.  In their own mind they are respectful and can’t believe otherwise.  Right now, as you read this, you may be one of those leaders.  But it doesn’t matter what you think, it only matters what they feel.  

Often, in an attempt to encourage or compliment people leaders come off as patronizing.  They convey a top-down, over-under and superior attitude.  I’m up here, you’re down there.  I’m in charge and you’re not.  I pay your salary.  I’m the boss.  You can hear the tone of condescension in their voice. 

Worse yet are the yellers of the world. Those that disrespect you outright by tearing you apart in the presence of others.  I’ve witnessed employees be verbally traumatized by their managers anger because they didn’t do something the manager expected.  As their faces turned red in embarrassment their hearts turned bitter and many a time they melted into a pile of mush. 

Both patronizing and yelling are not acceptable in the arena of mutual respect.  

Respecting your employees means speaking to them in such a way that they feel acknowledged, appreciated, and important in their area of participation in the organization.  This means even if they slip up, mess up, or aren’t perfect.

It also holds if they aren’t a great fit.  You must show respect to the human being with whom you are parting ways.  

I’ve seen employers part ways with employees in ways in which they were traumatized, while others were transformed.  I’ve seen anger, vengeance, and bad will and I’ve seen compassion and empathy and helpfulness.  I’ve seen employers forget about an employee the minute they walk out the door, and others who follow up constantly to see how they can help then get their next opportunity.

In short our obligation as citizens and leaders in this world is to be respectful to everyone.  That is at the core of Servant Leadership. 


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