I have written on this subject before. It is very difficult for me to automatically respect another person. They have to earn my respect. I will acknowledge their authority over me, and attempt to respect their position. But in order to gain my “real” and true respect – I have to know the person as trustworthy and caring. I watch their actions, listen to their words, observe how they deal with problems and situations…
With children, especially the ones who have hurts, they too watch before they truly respect. These children identify “real” people; they can smell a fake. They know who really cares. They don’t respect and trust just anybody. It is amazing to see what results can be obtained when there is a relationship of trust between student and teacher.
In the workplace it is also amazing what can be accomplished when you have a respected leader – not a leader who is given respect just because of their position, but a leader who has earned the respect of their workers/staff. When I think about the qualities I desire in a leader or one who has “authority” over me, these are a few of the items on my list:
For the most part, he or she must be honest and sincere.
He or she must be “real” and transparent. I, too, can smell a fake.
He or she does not play favorites and only listen to those who brown nose.
He or she respects workers and supports them.
He or she values the varying voices and opinions of workers.
He or she practices what he or she preaches when it comes to being a team player. Instead of talking about how the workers need to be a team, he or she allows workers to call some of the plays. There are few top-down directives.
He or she values diversity and differences. He or she does not try to make all players same. He or she understands that in order to achieve success, your “team” has to be able to use their different abilities for the positions they play. One needs differences if success is going to occur and needs people with strengths in different areas and different ways of thinking.
He or she works from the strengths of the staff.
He or she is not afraid of conflict. He or she does not take this as a personal offense – but sees conflict as a way to prevent problems and failure.
He or she sees the abilities of individuals and believes in the individuals. He or she is able to form a team from individual abilities. The environment is not “forced”, but flows from the valuing of staff and their belief that they can make a difference.
I try to give my respect first and foremost to children whether they have earned it or not. But when it comes to workplace leadership, I feel earned respect brings out the best in people. “Real” teams form from this type of leadership.