How to Earn Respect As a Leader
As leaders, we are always in the spotlight. Whether we recognize it or not, my friends, our employees watch and wait on our every move, every comment, every behavior. As your company grows and you are at the point where you are not interacting with every person on a daily basis anymore, your employees’ perception of you is guided by the limited interactions they do experience. Whether your comment at the quarterly all-hands was uplifting and powerful or your discussion about that project’s outcome was curt and short, your employees will begin to build a persona of you with the information they have access to.
With that said, leaders are inherently busy. We have one million and a half things going on and not enough time in the workday to complete them, propelling us in this non-stop and fiery movement that makes us the go-getters we are. Perhaps a number of things on our plates makes us more susceptible to moving with a sense of urgency 24/7, but we must be careful of the vibe we are expelling in our interactions with employees. Do we exude respect? Or do we come off as distracted, short or not present?
Here are some do’s and don’ts of executive level behaviors:
Do be on time: Your employees will be the first to notice a pattern of tardiness. Do you constantly show up late, hurdling into the room with your laptop and setup, greeting the room with a half-ass excuse of “sorry, my previous call ran over. What’s this meeting about again?” Proper time management allows you to handle the tasks and schedule of your day, allowing you to be present and on time for each meeting. Disrespecting time comes off as unprepared and sporadic and quite frankly… just rude.
Don’t interrupt: Maybe it’s because we are so aware of limited time, but we often see higher leadership develop a habit of interrupting someone in a conversation before their point has been made. Maybe you want them to get to the point, but maybe it would better serve you to accept their communication style for what it is and practice patience, holding your comments for a natural pause point in the discussion.
Do watch your body language: Again, your employees are watching your every move. Are you constantly checking your phone or email in meetings? Do you avoid conversation and eye contact when you walk around the office? Is your office door always shut? Close your screens for the proposal of the meeting, sit up straight, make eye contact, ask questions, be available. Being wholly present is the ultimate sign of respect.
Don’t lose your cool: We all have bad or stressful days, but you have a duty as their leader to present yourself as collected, calculated and under control. Emotional stability, especially for women, can be a hot button topic within the workplace, but we do not need to feed the stigma. If you’re finding out that the huge deadline isn’t going to be met, do not react or retort, but rather accept the news with grace and identify the areas that need support.
Cultivating an environment of respect will grow in value beyond your wildest dreams. When humans are respected, they are engaged and focused, creating a space for high productivity, flowing feedback and ultimately, results. As you walk into your workplace this morning, keep in mind that you get what you give - the exchange of respect is no exception.
For more on how to cultivate respect in the workplace, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica Miranda, an Organizational Development Psychologist, has 8 years of leadership and coaching experience in the corporate and tech start up spaces in Silicon Valley and greater Los Angeles areas, as well as active military enlistment. She completed graduate schooling at the University of Southern California and specializes in employee engagement and cultural development with an emphasis on Millennials and following generations in the workplace. IG: @_bodybyj