There is a vast difference between demanding respect and commanding respect. It is a common belief that respect is earnt rather than forced, which is valid for many areas of life, including the workplace. While employees are expected to treat each other how they would wish to be treated themselves, it takes a lot of skill and tact to be an effective leader. Whether you work in a managerial position or the education sector, commanding respect is a significant factor for career success. Here is a guide to commanding respect reasonably and constructively.
Respect among employees and managers leads to an overall more positive and productive work environment. Lead by example and treat your fellow team members as equals rather than subordinates. Your employees are human beings who are deserving of fair treatment, and regardless of your position, whether it’s team leader or CEO, you have an ethical duty to foster support, accountability and equity. Even when your patience is tested, remain calm and handle situations in a just and mature manner.
Believe it or not, there is a difference between listening and active listening. Active listening is the practice of improving mutual understanding through communication, using both verbal and non-verbal cues. Actively listen to your employees or students by being utterly present in the conversation - maintain eye contact, take in what they are saying and demonstrate your attentiveness by responding appropriately, i.e. offering feedback and verbal affirmations. Active listening should be demonstrated with every team member, customer and client, regardless of position or status.
As mentioned previously, leading by example is a crucial part of commanding respect. The ability to perform your role well will naturally culminate in increased levels of respect, as a commitment to excel will inspire your workforce. Demanding respect as a manager while simultaneously performing poorly in your role will lead to decreased employee motivation and reduced company loyalty. Practice self-motivation by setting realistic yet challenging goals and encourage your team members to follow suit.
Exceptional managers, teachers and other leaders are consistent in their behaviour. While we are all only human and some work days are easier than others, performance consistency is key in motivating team members and inspiring respect. You should also be consistent in the way you treat your employees and students. Avoid playing favourites and provide each individual with equal opportunities - in the workplace, not only does this help foster a respectful environment, but it also aids employee retention and job satisfaction.
You can also earn respect by regularly recognising and rewarding success and positive behaviour, such as good attendance, championing company values and proactivity. Rewards may vary depending on your setting; for example, it’s relatively common for companies to reward employees with time off, monetary bonuses and office perks.
As human beings, we never stop learning. A well-respected leader is open to learning opportunities in the form of feedback, training and admitting mistakes where appropriate. Welcoming input from employees makes them feel heard and valued as team members, increasing workplace creativity and innovation. Furthermore, training is not solely reserved for employees. Managers can benefit from brushing up on their coaching skills for leaders by enrolling on leadership and management courses.
There is a lot to be said for body language and how it affects the way in which others perceive us. A great deal of human communication is made up of non-verbal cues and signals. You can demonstrate respect for your colleagues by maintaining eye contact and an open posture, demonstrating confidence and affability. If you have to give a demonstration or lead a training/teaching session, stand tall with your shoulders back but avoid appearing stiff and awkward. You can read more about career-related body language here.
Collaboration is one of the cornerstones of business success. Effective teamwork encourages creative thinking and problem-solving, which are sought-after characteristics of any working environment. You can command respect whilst encouraging collaboration by cultivating an atmosphere of openness and transparency. Motive your employees to speak out and offer ideas. Furthermore, you can promote collaboration by leading from the top down - maintain an open-door policy and don’t be afraid to get stuck in alongside your employees.