5 Actions that Build Respect

The truth about becoming a good leader: you don’t need to be loved or feared. You need people to respect you.

You can tell whether you have someone’s respect by how they act around you. Think of your employees, colleagues, or even your friends:


Do they hide the truth, slow-roll implementation of your decisions, whisper behind your back, say what you want to hear but do something


Or do they do the opposite: provide candid assessments, give you bad news immediately, give you their discretionary effort, and let you know when they disagree?

Leaders can struggle to gain respect. People will do what you say because you are their boss, but no one admires you for your position in the hierarchy, your paycheck, or the credentials on your wall. Without respect, you are not a leader. You are simply a person putting on a management exhibition.

Here are five ways to earn respect:

1. Follow the Socrates principle. Socrates gave everyone he was speaking with his full attention. You communicate that you value the other person and what they are saying. Multi-tasking conveys the opposite: you are less important than the TikTok notification that just popped on my phone. What you hoped was saving time creates miscommunication, failure work, and disengagement.

2. Observe the Platinum Rule. Treat people as they wish to be treated. Doing so means that you need to get to know them and their interests, concerns, and expectations. You don’t want to be the creep who tries to hug everybody because you like hugs.

3. Be the Exemplar. People learn best from example. Model the behaviors you expect from everyone on your team. When you don’t do that, people see you as a hypocrite. If the rule’s not important enough for you to follow, get rid of it.

4. Use common-sense consistency. People believe the standards and rules are arbitrary when you are not consistent. You cannot have rules that apply to some people and not others or that you enforce sometimes but ignore the rest. At the same time, people expect you to account for extenuating circumstances with sound judgment.

5. Be worthy of trust. You gain trust through competence, character, and reciprocity. If you are not competent, you won’t be able to do what you are supposed to do. Without character, people won’t believe that you will do what you say you will do. When you take, take, take while your employees suffer poor pay and conditions, people see you as a bully or thief rather than a leader they want to follow.

Higher workplace respect leads to lower anxiety and stress, less time wasted in dispute resolution, fewer misunderstandings, and smaller amounts of failure work. What would change if you cut in half the time you waste dealing with these problems?

Do you want to improve how your subordinate leaders earn respect? Schedule a call.


Working with Chris has helped me visualize and communicate more clearly, gain the buy-in that inspires greater performance, and put my subordinates in positions to succeed.
Andy Weins, CEO, Green Up Solutions

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