Margaret Thatcher once famously quipped that “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” As a leader, the same could be said about respect. If you wonder if you’re team respects you, they probably don’t.
Being a leader is not just about having authority and power; it’s about earning the respect and trust of your team. Your title may have made you the boss. But your team’s respect makes you the leader.
In this article, we will explore how to earn respect as a leader through five essential actions that earn respect and create a positive work environment. By following these strategies, leaders can not only gain the respect they deserve but also motivate and inspire their team members to perform at their best.
1. Set The Example
The first way to earn respect as a leader is to set the example. Leaders must lead by example. One way to earn respect is by acting in a fair and equitable manner. The team needs to see that you’re not playing favorites or political games. Additionally, meeting deadlines and being punctual demonstrates reliability and professionalism. If you set high standards, they need to know you hold yourself accountable to those standards as well.
Another crucial aspect of setting the example is upholding the core values of the organization. When leaders align their actions with the values they expect from their team, it establishes a strong foundation of integrity and consistency.
2. Ask For Their Input
The second way to earn respect as a leader is to ask for your team’s input. Great leaders understand that they don’t have all the answers. They recognize the importance of seeking input and feedback from their team members. By actively listening and valuing their opinions, leaders create an inclusive and collaborative work environment.
Brainstorming options collectively before making decisions is another effective way to involve the team in the decision-making process. This approach not only encourages creativity and innovation but also fosters a sense of ownership and commitment among team members.
3. Explain Your Decisions
The third way to earn respect as a leader is to explain your decisions. Leaders often find themselves in situations where they need to referee conflicts and make final decisions. However, it is essential to consider the input received from the team and explain the reasoning behind those decisions. By doing so, leaders demonstrate transparency and fairness, which helps team members understand and accept the outcome.
Furthermore, leaders should take the time to consider rejected options and highlight their strengths. This shows that all ideas were valued and considered, even if they were not ultimately chosen. Additionally, training the team to understand the leader’s thought process can help them align their own thinking and decision-making with the overall goals of the organization.
4. Protect Your People
The fourth way to earn respect as a leader is to protect your people. Leaders have a responsibility to protect their team members from negative influences within the organization. This includes addressing and resolving conflicts, promoting a culture of respect, and ensuring that team members are treated fairly.
Additionally, leaders should ensure that their team has the necessary resources and support to perform their tasks effectively. By providing the tools and guidance needed, leaders empower their team members and enable them to succeed. Understanding the team’s capacity and preventing overload is also crucial. Leaders should be aware of their team members’ workload and ensure that they are not overwhelmed with excessive tasks. This demonstrates care and consideration for their well-being, which in turn fosters trust and respect.
5. Respect Them First
The final way to earn respect as a leader—and maybe it should have been the first—is to respect the team first. Respect is a two-way street. To earn respect as a leader, it is essential to show respect and appreciation for the contributions of your team members. Recognizing the value and strengths of each individual creates a positive and motivating work environment.
Leaders should respond positively to their team members’ ideas and feedback, encouraging open communication and collaboration. By actively acknowledging and considering their input, leaders empower their team members and make them feel valued. Creating a culture of respect and appreciation is crucial for building strong relationships within the team—and as a leader, you go first in extending that respect.
Earning respect as a leader is not an easy task—it doesn’t come with the new title or the corner office (assuming you’re not just working from a spare bedroom in our house). But it is essential for creating a positive and productive work environment. By setting the example, asking for their team’s input, explaining decisions, protecting their people, and respecting them first, leaders can establish trust, loyalty, and mutual respect. These strategies not only enhance the leader’s reputation but also inspire and motivate team members to do their best work ever.
About the author
David Burkus is an organizational psychologist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of five books on leadership and teamwork.