Calling all leaders, managers, and power professionals… If respect is the issue, are you willing to work to get more of it? 

Dr. Nicole LaBeach, Ph.D., PCC

Whether with your peers, colleagues, siblings, friends, children, or significant other, you probably desire a healthy level of respect in all of your relationships. At minimum, most would agree every human being deserves a basic level of respect and human decency. Beyond the basics however, respect is usually seen as a relational attribute that is earned. Interestingly, how the level of it translates in business and other relationships usually has something to do with a word that is often downplayed: Responsibility.

In many situations whether noticed or ignored, responsibility and respect hang out like best friends – where you see one, the other is usually not far behind. If you desire more respect, you may consider accepting more meaningful responsibility as part of your winning strategy. You’ll notice I added the word meaningful because it’s not about just taking on more, it’s about adding value into the equation. If you’re seeking authentic respect without accepting meaningful responsibility, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath. Yes, your title may position people to follow you and sit through your evaluations of them, but it can’t force them to have an internal respect for you. And yes, some people have internal hang ups that won’t promote giving respect where it’s due. However, if you’ve heard yourself say “He doesn’t respect me”, “She doesn’t respect me”, “They don’t respect me” on more than one occasion, it’s probably time to consider what you’re willing to do about it.

The 6 Tips below promise to not only bolster your level of respect but positively impact mutual respect, thus making your professional relationships healthier in the process.

Tip 1:  Use Healthy Boundaries… In every interaction the other person seeks both verbal and non-verbal cues to understand who you are and how they should treat you. If you have no clear boundaries, standards, preferences, likes, dislikes, understanding of where you begin, and where they end, you only serve to reinforce what you have already screamed “you don’t matter”, “you don’t exist”, “you’re not valuable”. Only you can hold yourself responsible for having and knowing what your boundaries are so you can share and hold others accountable to keeping them. 

Tip 2: Be CourageousDare to be appropriately vulnerable, open, authentic, and innovative in your professional dynamics. Dare to be consistent so others may see your steadiness and know that you won’t buckle under the slightest pressure. Dare to own when you’re wrong, learn from your mistakes, and be willing to change your mind when wisdom calls for your attention. All of the above are signs of courage that deserve respect. Together, they indicate you’re taking responsibility for your own growth and modeling a growth that you respect being reflected toward you. 

Tip 3:  Be of Service… It’s always within your power to look for and anticipate the needs of those you lead and work with then choose to fill it appropriately. Everyone can use a helping hand and the best help is the one you don’t have to ask for. Be the person who volunteers to lead, take on a new project, or thinks to serve the other person without being requested to do so, then do it to the best of your ability. When genuine, this type of sacrifice often yields greater respect.

Tip 4:  Strive for Equity… It’s not about this for that or everything being equal in a relationship, it’s more about justness and/or equity. As the leader, are you committing time and effort to developing and empowering those you lead? Or are you a delegating and micromanaging machine where folks feel unempowered, begrudgingly swim, or worst yet sink. No matter your title, when you’re honest about it, how do the list of responsibilities in your role compare to that in similar peer relationships? Is there equity? If not, it’s your move. Explore and find ways to be a more equitable contributor in sharing more of the burden, empowering people to grow, nurturing the skills of others, imparting knowledge, and pulling a bit more of the weight.

Tip 5:  Use Integrity… Being experienced as someone who keeps their word is very powerful when it comes to being well respected. Doing what you say you’re going to do a is often critical to a person feeling like they’re in good hands. As you accept the responsibility of casting the vision, creating the strategy, keeping your commitments, following-up, following through, communicating effectively, delegating appropriately, and supporting the team win you may just get more than respect, you may encounter both gratitude and appreciation.

Tip 6:  Be Respectful… If your words, actions, attitudes, and intentions are disrespectful toward others, you’re more likely you are to derail your own leadership trajectory and attract the same kind of disrespect. No matter your professional level, the more you respect yourself, the more likely you are to receive the reciprocated gesture. Your own behavior is your most powerful brand. It’s not about demanding or promoting fear to engineer respect, it’s more about being the respect you demand so people honor your emotional intelligence or even copy your leadership example.


Get more in depth in a discussion with Nicole about how you can increase your level of respect.