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The Power of Respect

admin | 12.10.2011

A survey conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) found that treating people with respect on a daily basis was rated as one of the most helpful things a leader can do to address conflict or tension. At work, we’re often faced with uncertainty or tension around not only the realities of the workplace, but also our differences in how we deal with those realities. A key challenge for leaders is to establish and build upon respectful relationships in the workplace among multiple groups. Gone are the days when the most common way was to instill fear in the ranks to get respect. Further research by the CCL reveals three key factors indicate what respect means to people in the workplace. Respect is about listening. I’ve blogged about this recently. Listening is the only communication tool we have at our disposal that can generate emotions in the speaker such as honored, connected, care about and respected – and we can do this without saying a word. Listening doesn’t mean we have to pretend that we agree with the things being said, but being genuine in actually hearing the whole message – words, emotions and sometimes even a hidden agenda. Listening takes time and effort, but is required if leaders desire to instill respect in their workplaces. Respect isn’t the absence of disrespect. Eliminating disrespect alone doesn’t generate respect. Respect is an action. We need to show it. We act with respect and speak with respect in order to generate a respectful environment. Without that “skin in the game”, we’re missing something. Respect comes in many forms and can be different based on cultures. Normal in one situation may be totally unacceptable in another. Leaders need to take the time to learn what is acceptable practice (and what is not) in showing respect depending on their environment or location. Cultivating a climate of respect can be done in many ways. Here are some universal ideas: - Show an interest in others’ perspectives - Thank and recognize others for their contribution (albeit subtly in some cultures) - Openly communicate policy and reasons for changes - Clarify decision making processes and seek input to those processes - Take concerns seriously Leaders have an opportunity to build respect in the way they do things. Leading by example is helpful at times, but respect requires action. Remember that the next time you are pondering your response and you'll surely do things required to grow respect in your organization.