Want to be Respected? Show Respect.

The other day, Michael was thinking about respect. Yes, it can seem like an ill-defined idea, but Michael could see that the senior leaders at his organization are respected. And he was thinking about its importance, and how remarkable it was that among the senior leaders — a group of people with different backgrounds, individual personalities, and varied business skills — respect was one attribute they all had in common.

The desire to be respected is something we all share. As executive coaches, we know that organizational behavior is shaped from the top. Leaders need to model respectful behavior. Senior leaders can’t expect other people in their organization to have respect for one another if they don’t have respect for them.

Michael was also thinking that he’d rise more quickly in the executive ranks if people had more respect for him too. So, logically, he began considering the things that he might do to garner more respect.

Before Michael heads in that direction, however, here’s something he had not spent much time thinking about: how much respect does he show for others?

Honoring the Humanity of Another

From a leadership perspective, having respect for others is related strongly to other leadership characteristics such as executive presence, communication, listening skills, and the ability to motivate others.

At its core, respect is honoring the humanity of another person.

Respect means appreciating others and recognizing their efforts, work, and commitment. Demonstrating respect means modeling behaviors such as making eye contact, listening, and showing empathy.

Be willing to hear someone else’s viewpoint all the way through, without interruption. “All the way through” acknowledges that their viewpoint is valid — even if you may disagree. Even if you agree, avoid the temptation to jump in because you think you know the end!

Consider, not the Golden Rule (the principle of treating others the way you want to be treated), but the Platinum Rule (treat others the way they want to be treated). The Platinum Rule cleverly forces you to truly pay attention to other people. To live by the Platinum Rule, you must observe and understand people’s personalities, and their likes and dislikes. What motivates them? What brings out the best in them? What do they value? It requires that you honor their preferences (not yours). And that’s respect.

What’s Next for Michael

Working with his executive coach to track progress and discuss challenges along the way, Michael resolved to take specific actions to show more respect to others:

  • At weekly staff meetings, listen to everyone’s ideas all the way through — even Sheri’s, whose ideas he tends to disagree with.
  • Apply the Platinum Rule: think more deliberately about what date might be best for their team retreat — knowing that others have families (Michael does not) and that people on his team may prefer a schedule that is different than what he would chose for himself.
  • Thank his staff for their work on a recent last-minute proposal — but acknowledge each person individually for a specific contribution, avoiding his usual, general “nice job” to the team.

In the end, respect keeps coming back to the humanity of the other person. We all want to be seen and heard and recognized as human beings. We are not simply our job title. We want people to “get us.” Let’s begin that journey!

To learn more about the power of respect and how to strengthen your leadership capabilities, contact the executive coaches at Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.