Comedian Rodney Dangerfield made famous and drew a lot of laughs for his line, “I get no respect, I tell ya.” In reality, a lack of respect is not a laughing matter. In fact, when it comes to leadership, it can be one’s undoing.
As I continue to explore leadership, teach its concepts, speak and write about it, I am always asked what one book to read that will explain leadership. I always reply there is no one book, and no single rule; however, I do think there is one common human need that is always successful in any human interaction, and that is respect. Imagine what we might do if we always practiced it?
No matter what the issue I am dealing with, either personally or with clients, I always ask myself what is the respectful solution. When I am teaching leadership and I attempt to express my ideas, I always come to respect. When I am dealing with my kids, I ask myself how I can maintain mutual respect between us. It’s like the magic answer to any problem. Yet, it seems to be missing from society in so many ways. Throughout history, every blunder can be directly linked to not respecting others, therefore not knowing, listening to, acknowledging or caring about others. In its place is judging people without the facts, exploiting situations and people unfairly and misrepresenting ideas to hurt the other.
I think the most prevalent and obvious place I see disrespect is in our political system. I get that our system is built on competing ideas, and that debate and dialogue is good for sorting out what is best. I love debate; however, it seems to have slipped into the realm of absurd. We have serious issues to solve, and yet in political circles the intent is disrespecting the competition. Lack of respect seems to me a weak strategy.
Good examples of respect can be found in the many businesses who stuck with employees through this recession or who were at least honest with people about the situation. When things turn around, these leaders who demonstrated respect will have access to people, ideas and opportunities because people respond positively to respect.
When we give, and therefore gain, respect we are recruiting people to cooperate, participate and give their best. When respect is present, people behave better and work better together. And the most interesting thing is it’s contagious. Imagine what a room full of people who respect each other can get done. That is a productive organization, and that will be more prevalent in the future.
Leaders, professionals and successful companies demonstrate respect every day, and it is a core value to them. These are some considerations to creating respect in your professional life.
Dr. Russ Ouellette is the managing partner of Sojourn Partners, a Bedford-based executive leadership strategy and coaching firm. He can be reached at (603) 472-8103 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He can also be twittered@RussOuellette or Facebooked – Sojourn Partners.
Re-published courtesy of NH Business Review