Servant leaders can enhance their relationships by choosing to model the behaviors of love outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. The fourth behavior mentioned is respectfulness.

Respectfulness is treating others as important people. Many leaders have heard me say, “NEVER walk by someone in your organization without acknowledging them!”

At the core, leadership is influence. Without respect and trust, there is no influence. Respecting others, will build trust, and will increase influence. When people know that they matter to the leader, they will instinctively have a higher level of respect for the leader. 

People naturally enjoy working for leaders who have a genuine respect for their people. I can quickly learn about an organization’s culture and a leader’s focus on respectfulness when I am on a plant tour with a leader.

This week I had the opportunity to go on a tour of 5 facilities of a major manufacturing company. This organization has around 1,000 employees. I was led on the tour by one of their owners who is also the COO of the organization. It was extremely clear to me that this leader placed a significant importance on respectfulness.

He acknowledged every employee that we passed on the tour by first name, and illustrated a genuine interest in how it was going for him or her that day. Employees were also eager to make eye contact with their senior leader and acknowledge him back. The employees were all clearly engaged in their work, were smiling, and certainly enjoyed the opportunity to work for this leader who cared about each of them on a personal level.

Effective and active listening is another key attribute of a leader that illustrates respectfulness. People want to know that you are focused on them when talking to you. When someone is talking, a leader should step away from their computer, put down their PDA, and act interested, be encouraging, and clarify what they have said. This practice will send the message to the person that you respect what they have to say and it is important to you.

A leader’s genuine respect for people, no matter what their role in an organization drives engagement and passion within the workplace. People want to work for leaders who care about them.

What are your thoughts on the importance of a leader respecting his / her team?

 Mark Deterding