Respect is something you should earn from your team and it should not be expected or demanded. Being a respected leader necessarily requires you to be mindful of how you interact with your team and peers.
How effective leaders earn the respect of their people
The tips below give you some insight into how effective leaders earn the respect of their people.
1. Give your team trust – don’t make them earn it
I have learnt over the past 30 years that your team will quickly respect you when you coach and don’t manage. One of the simplest ways to earn respect as a leader or coach is to give your team trust and the freedom to do their jobs, without micromanaging everything they do. Personally, I have worked for managers that have made me bend over backwards to earn their trust and all this did was frustrate me. I did not respect them for that.
Frequently, I have heard managers saying ‘give them enough rope and see if they hang themselves’. I find this attitude very negative. Trust is something you should give, and your team should expect that from you; don’t let yourself get drawn into being a manager rather than a coach and mentor.
2. Demonstrate your own competence
People respect competence. Needless to say, if you are not demonstrating it, you will have a hard time earning respect. Technical competence in your role is not the only thing your team are looking for; what they want is a leader who is competent in problem solving and decision making. Your team needs a leader who is capable and remains calm when things get complicated or difficult.
No one is perfect and as a leader, you may need to work on your coaching skills. Ask yourself if you are confident enough to ask other leaders for advice. Seeking advice from other leaders and mentors will help set you on a course to becoming a respected leader. Great leaders collaborate for improvement with their team and with their peers and mentors.
You won’t have all the answers and people respect leaders who ask great questions. Include your team as part of your learning as a leader and demonstrate humility. Demonstrating humility and curiosity as a leader helps your team to gain confidence that you are open-minded and humble and willing to learn from them.
3. Leading with integrity
Earning respect from your team requires that you demonstrate integrity and embrace it. Everything you do and everything you say as a leader is judged by your team and others around you. Needless to say, you need to practice leading with integrity.
What you say in public and what you say in private should always be aligned or you will struggle to earn respect from your team and peers. Saying one thing behind closed doors and another in public will only illustrate that you are playing politics in the workplace and your respect score will diminish rapidly throughout your team.
Your actions should align with your personal values and your team’s values. Even when making decisions using your core values, there will be occasions when you are confronted with the need to compromise, as one value will contradict another. Use this as an opportunity to draw attention to the conflicting values, not hide from it. Letting your team know you’ve had to make a hard or unpleasant decision and explaining the reasons can help preserve the respect of your team.
Earning respect from your team and peers is something a great leader must do, or they are doomed to fail not only themselves but more importantly, their teams. The three ways to earn respect from your team are easy to remember but require your focus to implement.
- Give trust to earn it
- Demonstrate competence
- Practise integrity
Following these three key values will, in time, build respect amongst your team members that cannot be quantified but can be observed by team wins and engagement. Respect is not something you are owed – it is something you earn, and you need to keep demonstrating you deserve it.
Author – David McDonald
Chief Operating Officer