All They’re Asking for is . . . . . .

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 . . . . a little respect.  According to an article in HBR “The Leadership Behavior That’s Most Important to Employees”, demonstrating respect is at the top of the list.   The article goes on to say that “. . . even when leaders know that showing respect is critical, many struggle to demonstrate it.”  There is even a multi-step process provided on how to demonstrate civility/ respect with your employees.  WOW!

What is the definition of respect?   Quite simply, according to the Urban Dictionary – “To treat people in the manner in which you expect to be treated. To show consideration for another person’s feelings and interests. An attitude demonstrating that you value another person”.  The interaction between and employee and manager is at its core a relationship.  Let’s also explore the definition of “relationship” – 1.  the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected. 2.  the way in which two or more people or organizations regard and behave toward each other.  As professionals we have multiple relationships we are managing everyday – customer / supplier (and vice versa), employee / manager (and vice versa), service provider / internal business partner (and vice versa).  In the article, 20,000 employees around the world were studied and “when it comes to garnering commitment and engagement from employees” leaders must demonstrate respect.  Can the same be said for all other types of relationships as well?  Shouldn’t respect be at the foundation of every successful relationship?

We have done many blogs over the last few months on being a “supplier of choice”, “customer of choice” or “employer of choice”.  Any one of these designations requires forming AND nurturing strong relationships.  These relationships cannot exist without a demonstration of respect.  Let’s face it, people want to work with people they like, respect and want to be around.  If, as an organization, you cannot demonstrate respect for that party with which you seek a relationship, you are doomed to fail.   So for what it’s worth (a little respect maybe 🙂 ) here is a my list of ways to demonstrate respect and build relationships:

  • Be kind to everyone always – there is no downside. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity.  You will get more benefit from this than the other party
  • Listen more than you talk – you never know what you can learn. If you are smart others will know it; you don’t need to shove it in everyone’s face.
  • Seek out differing opinions– this is the true test of leader. A good leader realizes that they can’t know everything and seeks to get smarter by involving others.
  • Value differences – this is a true sign of respect. Think of what a boring world we would live in if we were all the same.  Diversity is special and should be treated as such. 
  • Thanks others often – no man (or woman) is an island. Our success is usual the result of a team effort – thank and recognize the team.
  • Make people around you feel comfortable – this is one skill that is highly undervalued but can pay huge dividends particularly in a team environment.
  • Hand out genuine compliments – everyone needs to hear good things. If you see something you like, go out of your way to mention it to the other party.

By the way, any manager that needs to be taught civility is NOT a leader.  He / she may have the title and / or the responsibility but is NOT a leader.  Why would someone who cannot demonstrate the most basic of leadership skills – respecting others – be given a leadership role in the first place?  Leadership cannot be assigned – it must be demonstrated. 

Demonstrating respect seems like such a simple and common sense thing to do yet many of us fail to do it.  If you are looking for that next great leader or want to be that next great leaders just “show a little respect (just a little bit 🙂 )

 Join the conversation and let us know what you think . . . . . . . . .   

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Anne Kohler
Anne has been leading consulting and financial management organizations for over 25 years. She has extensive expertise in Strategic Sourcing, change management, contracting & contract management (both the buy side and sell side) organizational design and supply chain management. Anne has a passion for collaborating and educating her clients while helping them to uncover hidden value in their organizations. In addition, Anne has been named by Supply & Demand Chain Executive as a “Top 100 Provider Pro to Know” every year since 2007 and a 2013 Top Female Supply Chain executive.
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