September 21 by Cheryl Viola, Executive Director, MBA

John Maxwell tells the story of Harriet Tubman, an uneducated slave, a woman, and from a minority culture of African Americans. She lived during the time that women didn’t have the right to vote and despite her circumstances, she became an incredible leader by making 19 trips and helping over 300 slaves escape through the underground railroad. She became an incredible leader.

Dr. Chapman Ph.D. Said that “Respecting other’s opinions is not an easy art.” When we respect another person’s opinions it doesn’t mean that we agree with it means that we recognize that others are entitled to look at the world differently and share their views with a fair hearing.

Earning respect in the workplace

1.            Give respect to others.

We have all heard that respect is earned. That is true, but it starts with showing respect to everyone. Be courteous, kind, and listen to others.  Recently I was having a conversation and was told a story about another person. As I listened to the experience, I replied that I felt bad for the person in the story because we don’t know what they experienced in their life that led them to those decisions. The person I was speaking with replied that my response was a very compassionate way to look at things. I am in no way saying I am better than others. I just know from the experience of being misjudged that when we show kindness and respect to others first it is easier to have compassion and not be judgmental. Actor Robin Williams said, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing, about…”

2.            Consistently keep your promises.

Keeping promises is essential to earning respect. Keeping promises builds your credibility.  If you commit to something, be sure not only complete but strive for excellence. We live in a pass-the-buck culture. Stop making excuses and blaming others. Earning respect comes when people trust you and you earn people’s trust by consistently keeping promises. Be careful about taking on too many commitments many doers like to keep busy and it is easy to over-promise and extend yourself beyond your ability.

3.            Let your actions speak louder than your words.

Working hard doesn’t mean you do an 80-hour workweek. It means that you spend your time working, meeting deadlines, and completing assignments and tasks. It means going the extra mile to help co-workers.  In today’s workplace, many have become complacent about standards. People arrive late and we have become too accepting of excuses for poor performance.  Earning respect is not about what you expect from others, but what you demonstrate to those around you.

One of the key elements of leadership is service. A servant leader leads by example, they are doers and lead by example. I have had the opportunity to work alongside many servant-based leaders and I know that their example is what shaped me and helped me to learn through the example and mentoring that respect is earned by those who observe a doer.

4.            Help Others succeed.

Earning respect is helping others shine by giving credit where it is due. No one likes the team player that takes all the glory. Abraham Lincoln was a great leader because he not only gave credit when others succeeded, but he also took the blame when things failed.

John Maxwell said that the greatest source of respect comes from adding values to others. People are attracted to success and they respect other’s accomplishments. Good leaders do what’s right, even at the risk of failure.

5.            Ask for help when you need it.

Jay Shetty said, “A person is never unqualified; you are just inexperienced.” There will always be someone who knows more, and you truly strive to be the best you every day you will seek learning opportunities and ask for help when needed.

For me, asking for help is challenging. As a doer, I will not ask others to do something I am not willing to do and that makes asking for help difficult. Humility is admitting that you have taken on too much, or just seeking to improve your skill and knowledge. It is okay to ask for help to complete a project on time.

6.            Communicate

Communication is essential. We are in a multi-generational workplace and that means there are several different communication styles. When we know our communication style and can express our preferences to others it helps them know how best to communicate with us and we likewise can learn how best to communicate with them.

I was once in a team meeting where at the end of the meeting, a team member turned and asked me to send them an email re-capping the entire meeting. I was stunned because we not only went overtime but this particular team member also took notes. What I failed to understand then was that that team members preferred communication was the written word. And although the team member took notes, they preferred to see the assignments and tasks in an email from the leader. It was a very enlightening moment for me.

7.            Always strive to do better.

There is always room to grow. The more you grow, the better the people you will attract. In the leadership book Spark, the authors’ Morgan, Lynch & Lynch state that no one is born a leader. Everyone is made into a leader and self-development starts with the courage you make to learn to lead. It means taking action even in the face of fear.

8.            Admit your mistakes.

Admitting your mistakes shows your vulnerability. Have the courage to seek feedback and learn from it. When you initiate accountability, by admitting mistakes, face the consequences using them as growth opportunities you inspire trust.

9.            Always be professional.

The business world is no longer just 9 – 5. There are always after-hour work and networking functions. You are always an ambassador for your company and thus you need to be mindful of how you behave and what you say at non-work events, this includes what you post on social media.

Living your values prevents you from making choices you will regret. You never want to be put in a situation where others don’t trust you or believe in you. Earning respect is all of these and then some. Be sure to listen well, show kindness, and have a sense of humor being able to laugh at yourself. Ultimately earning respect is living with integrity every second, every minute, every day.