Great leaders appreciate every job that is done well; it doesn’t matter whether it’s in the C-suite or the mailroom. Great leaders also understand that respect isn’t an entitlement linked to a particular job title. They need to respect others before others will respect them.
“One of the critical lessons I’ve learned in life and it extends beyond the workplace is the importance of respect,” said Ritch K. Eich, author, military veteran and businessman. “This may seem old-fashioned or trite in the days of, ‘I got mine, go get yours,’ but if you treat people right, you will get the results you want.”
Eich is the former Chief of Public Affairs for Blue Shield of California and is a Captain, U.S. Naval Reserve (Ret.). He is the author of three books: “Truth, Trust + Tenacity: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary Leaders” (2015); “Leadership Requires Extra Innings: Lessons on Leading from a Life in the Trenches” (2013); “Real Leaders Don’t Boss: Inspire, Motivate and Earn Respect from Employees and Watch Your Organization Soar” (2012).
So, how do you earn respect in business? Here are five ways:
1. Lead by example. Embody the qualities and traits you expect from the people you lead and people you deal with. You want your workers and peers to be honest, so be honest yourself in all your business dealings. If you want your employees to be hardworking, set that example and quit taking long lunches or leaving the office early all the time. Model the traits you want others to show, such as integrity, kindness, creativity, inventiveness and industriousness.
2. Be humble. Don’t expect anyone to care about where you went to college or your past successes. Plenty of businesspeople went to top universities and graduated with honors, and plenty more win awards and honors from chambers of commerce all the time. Braggarts are boring and turn people off. Get over yourself and do it quickly. Avoid self-promotion and publicity stunts. They are obvious and obnoxious and can damage your reputation.
3. Show your commitment every single day. Work alongside the people you lead. Work longer and harder than they do. Get in the trenches and get your hands dirty once in a while. If you manage a warehouse, manufacturing plant or factory, make it a point on a regular basis to get off the phone, get out of your office and visit the production floor. Talk to the employees, get to know their names so you can address them personally, ask them how things are going, and pitch in if needed. Ask them if there are any glitches that need correcting.
4. Help people succeed and advance. Promote your staff. Help your employees gain exposure and give them opportunities for development and advancement. Great leaders let their teams shine and are confident enough not to need the spotlight.
5. Be a teacher or mentor. People always have other work or educational opportunities regardless of the economy and will leave your business unless they see an investment is being made in their future. Focus on those people who are bright, hardworking, dedicated, reliable and creative, and have skill sets that you don’t, or those who show potential. Mentor them at work or support programs that allow them to earn a new skill certification or degree.