Leadership Lesson #14: Respect is Earned

Posted: January 14, 2012 in Relationships
Tags: ,

I’ve had a variety of managers as I have served in different roles across several companies. I respect some of the managers I have had and some of the other leaders up the chain of command. Others I do not respect – perhaps in terms of how they manage and maybe as individuals apart from the work setting.

What amazes me as I watch some people in positions of authority is their apparent cluelessness about how respect comes to pass. Some may even have no desire to be respected by those they manage (a clue to others that they shouldn’t be in a position of power). I cringe when I witness authority figures who show no knowledge of how to relate to people, how to encourage the best from those they manage, how to reward and incentivise positive behaviors, how to seek out and take advantage of other people’s wisdom in the decision-making process, and how to lead by example. I’ve seen too many who think they can somehow demand respect from others.

It doesn’t work that way. While those in authority can demand behaviors from people they manage, they cannot demand respect.

I should acknowledge that what causes me to respect a person in authority may be different that what causes others to respect someone. That’s fair. But it should be true that leaders want the person and not just the position to be respected. There is a big difference.

I’ve heard it said that people start a new job for the work it involves, but they leave because of management. Been there – done that. I won’t work long for someone I don’t respect. Fortunately, I have great respect for my manager at work and look forward to many years together. He’s hard working, enthusiastic, creative, informal, humorous, intelligent, willing to try new things, and he seeks out the opinions of others in the process of trying to do what is in the best interest of the company.

I like that. I respect him because he’s earned it.

Leap year lesson #14 – Respect is earned.

  1. Tom White says:

    Hey Jeff, ok you have hit the nail on the head once again. I have several managers at my place of employment and each and every one of them fall into this catagory. I have seen them do some unthinkable things that hurt other people and it does not affect them what so ever. I have often asked them how do they sleep at night . They laugh and make some sort of cruel remark. There is a lack of respect for all of them from all of the other workers, which total about 95. There are about 8 managers that should be in jail someplace not to mention in charge of so many.There is a grand total of 3 there including myself that consider our selves as christians. The best way that one of my christian brothers put it to me one day was that his wife told him that our place (what she considers to be ) has a huge picture of satan hovering over the building. Ido my job well and my pay is decent and I know I should move to something else but the economy is so bad at this moment. I keep asking God to tell me what to do in my situation and Im sure he will in his own time. Thanks Jeff

  2. Jeff Ross says:

    Wow, Tom. That sounds like a place where you really have to struggle with what to do – stay and try to be a Christian influence or shake the dust from your feet as you go elsewhere. I know God will give you wisdom in how to handle situations, opening and closing doors according to what is best.

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