There Is An Antonym For Respect

December 18, 2009

I want to call out an excellent post by Mike Myatt at N2Growth titled; CEOs; Feared or Respected?

Mr. Myatt sums up that topic brilliantly;

Fear based motivations don’t instill loyalty, create trust, build morale, inspire creativity, attract talent, or drive innovation.

In this post I want to take a look at just one of those words: Respect

As a ‘C’ level executive, Mr. Myatt’s post is targeted at chief executive officers, but the lesson on fear vs. respect contained within the content of that post is important for any leader.

As a Team Leader, Supervisor, Manager, right  through to the executive manager, we need to create a culture that has mutual respect. And in that concept of respect,  I believe this addition to Mr. Myatts’s topic will also apply to leaders of all levels.

Respect is a soft word. If we look at a definition, it can simply be: re·spect, High or special regard. Respect can be hard to measure objectively, and it often falls into the know it when you see it category.

I know that personally I have worked with individuals that I was not overly fond of on a personal level, yet had the utmost respect for their input, knowledge, and / or skills.

And on the flip side, wonderful people individually, whom I held very little respect for on those same characteristics.

Respect, And Disrespect

Pop culture and our kids have made the ‘Dis’ famous. Let us call that disrespect the very obvious and visible assault on ourselves as individuals through insults or actions.

But lets look at the more insidious disrespect that can affect our business.

When There Is Nothing Left

When you as a leader have consistently demonstrated through your words, (or lack of) and your actions (again, or lack of) that you cannot be trusted or relied upon for any form of guidance, coaching or direction. What do you have left?

All you have left is a group of people warming their chairs with no motivation, loyalty or desire. They have zero respect for their leadership, as that leadership has shown zero respect for them.

While a leader who uses fear to rule (figuratively) beats these traits out of their employees, lack of trust and respect in you as a leader will suck those traits out like a vampire. There just won’t be large explosive fireworks as it happens.

In line with Mr. Myatts 5 items to identify if you rule by fear, here are 4 items to identify if you are sucking the life out of your organization by creating an environment where you cannot be respected in your leadership role.

1) A Dysfunctional Team: Passive aggressive behaviors, back stabbing office politics and petty quarrels are the norm. Your lack of demonstrating and benchmarking standards of behavior, plus your dithering or outright ignoring the issues required to deal with these behavioral issues shows your team that you really could not care less.

2) Your Team Shuts Up: Water cooler chat is only about the weather. Your team knows that mentioning anything about that issue or project is waste of time. Your vague platitudes or promises are never acted upon or delivered. If that issue is fixed, or that project is successful, it will be in spite of you, not because of you.

3) Lack of Commitment: Projects or deliverables are either late, or non existent. Your team already knows it will blow over, they know that you will either arbitrarily change the date next week, or that you will just forget about it entirely.

4) Lack of Interaction: (one of Mr. Myatt’s titles too) Vague mumbles of OK, fine, and Sure greet every directive. because every meeting, document, or report is going to be fluff, the bare minimum; because your teams know that no matter what they do, or how much effort they take, you won’t read or view the result anyway.  It will just disappear. You won’t provide feedback, you won’t clarify better outcomes or resources.

The Leadership Takeaway

Mutual respect builds bridges. And it starts with you.

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8 Responses to “There Is An Antonym For Respect”

  1. Jim Spencer Says:

    Elliot thanks for bringing this subject to the table. Respect is important in businesses of all sizes as well as in the town hall and on the playground.

    Thinking deeply about what we respect brings clarity and conviction to good leaders and followers alike.

    • elliotross Says:

      Thanks for dropping by Jim!

      And it is such a ‘soft’ slippery concept – yet that lack of it means that no one does their best – no one does much more than warming a chair


  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ServiceSphere2: There Is An Antonym For Respect #Leadership #CIO…

  3. Mike Myatt Says:

    Hi Elliot –

    Thanks so much for the kind words, and for including me you post. All the best Elliot.


  4. Great Stuff. You must have read 5 Dysfunctions of a team. If not, you would love it. Patrick L. breaks these behaviors into great realism.

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ServiceSphere, VendorNews. VendorNews said: There Is An Antonym For Respect #Leadership #CIO […]

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