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Gaining Respect - 5 January 2010

December was a month that contained prominent moments of disrespect for figures of authority. A few weeks ago, a man hit the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, on the head with a statue. Just before Christmas, a woman attacked the Pope by dragging him to the ground. And if we go back to December 2008, an angry journalist famously threw a shoe at George Bush.

In the incidents outlined above, there was a lack of ‘earned respect’. There are two types of respect: status respect and earned respect. Status respect is when someone respects you for superficial reasons, such as your job title and perceived seniority. Earned respect is when you’re genuinely respected for the person you are. If you’re interested in ramping up the level of earned respect your employees have of you, the following five factors are the way to do it.

Be Respectful: In order to be loved, love others. In order to be interesting, be interested. Similarly, in order to be respected, be respectful. Give it first and see what comes back.

Be Authentic: Don’t act like “a manager” just because you’re a manager. Just be you. Be congruent. Tell the truth. Lead from the heart.

Be Courageous: Take risks that make you uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to admit to mistakes. And unlike many people, deal with difficult issues bravely rather than avoid them.

Be Consistent: In your personal life, to be called ‘predictable’ might not be a compliment. But if your emotions and actions at work are erratic, then you’ll be seen as out of control.

Be Brilliant: Sadly, many managers are happy being ordinary and doing the bare minimum. Instead, strive for excellence in the work you do. Be a passionate lifelong learner.

Frequently, managers rely on ‘status respect’ to attract their employees’ admiration – but that’s neither sustainable nor real. It’s unlikely your employees will ever throw statues or shoes, but if ‘earned respect’ is lacking in the workplace, what they might end up throwing is a tantrum.


 

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