7 Ways to Earn Respect as a Leader

Do you wonder why some people naturally gain respect while others have to command or worse, demand it?

Respect comes in direct correlation with giving it to others. This sounds like a basic skill, yet somehow feeling disrespected remains a common complaint.

Are parents and teachers shirking their responsibility for turning everyone into good little citizens that can play well with others? Perhaps. More likely, cultural norms have changed. Families allow for greater familiarity and schools are more focused on test scores and class sizes than they are on teaching little Johnny and Susie to stand out as leaders.

Whether you are the executive in charge or a contributing team member, your ability to earn respect will impact your emotional happiness and ultimate career trajectory. Some authority figures believe they are entitled to deference simply due to their position or experience, but this sort of respect diminishes over time and can ultimately hurt the company culture.

Here are seven tips to help you be the leader who earns respect rather than just demands it.

1. Be consistent.

If you find you lack credibility, it’s probably because you are saying one thing and doing another. People do pay attention to what you say until you give them reason not to by doing the opposite. You don’t have to be predictable, just don’t be a hypocrite.

2. Be punctual.

Nothing makes me lose respect for someone faster than being made to wait. Time is the most valuable commodity for successful people. Missing appointments or being late demonstrates a total disregard for the lives and needs of others. Get control of your calendar.

3. Be responsive.

The challenge with contact management today is there are too many ways to communicate. Between Twitter, Facebook,Messenger, text, phone, Skype, and Facetime, people are in a quandary over the best way to reach you. And even with all the channels, some people still don’t respond in a timely manner, leaving colleagues hanging or chasing them. Limit your channels and respond within 24 hours if you want to appear communication worthy.

4. Be right most of the time, but be comfortable being wrong.

The simple way to be right is to do your homework and state facts that are well thought out. You may have to make a best guess now and then even when information is too scarce to know for sure. Take it as a qualified risk, manage expectations, and if you’re wrong, smile and be happy you learned something that day.

5. Forgive others and yourself for mistakes.

If you’re not erring, you’re not trying. Healthy leaders encourage experimentation and create environments of safe failure. Encourage people to take mitigated risks, and set an example for how to shake off a failure and bounce back.

6. Show respect to others when they are wrong and right.

Disparaging people who make errors will reflect worse on you than those who err. On the flip side, any jealous tendencies toward those who succeed will surely be noticed by others. Live as if in a glass body. Assume everyone can see inside your heart.

7. Help those who are holding you back, but not too much.

Good leaders help those around them succeed by overcoming weakness. But the boss quickly loses respect for placating habitual troublemakers at the expense of the group’s success. Know when to support weak players, and cut them loose when they clearly hamper the result.

Too many people today assume leadership positions without consideration for their impact on others. The leadership vacuum in business today allows them to stay as long they manage acceptable results. Ultimately, your personal leadership legacy will not be remembered for your MBA, your sales numbers, or the toys you acquired. Most likely, it will be the positive, personal impact you created, one follower at a time.

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Kevin Daum is an award winning and bestselling author of 5 books. He is a marketer, speaker, and columnist for Inc.com and Smart Business Magazine. As an Inc. 500 entrepreneur, his sales and marketing techniques resulted in more than $1 billion in sales. Drawing on his background in theatre and business, Kevin is a compelling speaker who has engaged and inspired audiences around the globe. Kevin is a graduate of the MIT Entrepreneurial Masters program and has received the Global Learning Award 3 times from the Entrepreneur’s Organization, where he held several board positions. Kevin has designed, produced, and led award-winning executive training programs and events for C-level executives and entrepreneurs on four continents. Previously, Kevin was named one of the 40 people to watch under 40 in San Francisco by the Business Times and in 2006 was named Distinguished Alum of the Year by his alma mater, Humboldt State University.