How to gain respect as a Leader

‘People don’t want to follow leaders into the future, they want to co-create it’

Times have moved on from the lion and the sheep leadership analogy. Today, managers and teams work together harmoniously to achieve a common goal; whilst the hierarchy is still present, employees now have more of a voice and managers are open to new ways of working.

Knowing that one size doesn’t fit all, the leader / employee relationship is a two-way street and must work for all parties. It’s not your way or the high way – it’s about finding a style of working and communicating that works for you all. You’re not going to figure this out in a day. You’ll need to invest time and energy into this before you’re all working harmoniously and give yourself time to weather the ‘storming process’ that all teams experience.

One sure fire to way to lose the respect of your team is to micromanage. Nobody respects a manager that can’t let go and your staff won’t feel valued or trusted if you’re hovering over their shoulder all day. Effectively delegate work, take a step back and trust that the work is going to get done until you’re proven wrong.

Another way to earn respect is to really listen to your team. Seek out feedback and find out if this way of working is actually working for your employees. Paint yourself as a caring leader and schedule regular catch ups not just for work scheduling but also to also to check in on how your employees are feeling, what their ambitions are and if they need any support from you.

If you are new to the post, you need to settle into the role and earn the respect of your team before you start rewriting the rules and making changes straight away. Learn their way of doing things first and don’t always assume that you know best. You can learn as much from them as they can from you. Your employees will soon become disengaged if you begin changing everything about their work or processes from day one without at least learning the ropes.

Respect can be hard to earn and very easy to lose. Know that there is a time and a place for feedback, whether it be positive or constructive. Human beings don’t tend to respond well to negative feedback even if it is constructive so don’t alienate your employees by doing this publicly or in front of others. It’s best to do this in a 1-2-1 situation where both parties can speak freely and without them feeling like they’re being chastised.  

On the other hand, positive feedback and praise can be done publicly or during team meetings to show that your staff are valued and that you notice their hard work. You can then still go into detail about what you feel went well in a 1 -2- 1.

Whilst earning the respect of your team may take a lot of time and patience, here are some things to avoid doing:

  • Don’t take it personally – If your new team don’t respect or listen to you, don’t take it to heart. Most people don’t like change and having a new leader or manager can upset the status quo. You just need to give it time to settle down and find a new way of working together. It’s nothing personal.  
  • Don’t punish people for making mistakes, help them learn from it – Humans make mistakes, it’s only natural. The worst thing to do is punish your employees or call them out on it as you will create a rift between yourself and them. Instead, work with them to decipher exactly what went wrong and how they can avoid this next time.
  • Don’t be impossible to please or set unrealistic deadlines - Your employees will become disengaged and unmotivated if they feel that nothing they do is good enough. Of course, you need to set out your expectations and set stretched targets but be realistic and make sure your employees are comfortable with these. There’s a difference between something challenging and something impossible.
  • Don’t think that you know everything - Even the most experienced people can still learn from others. Starting with a new team is a great opportunity to learn off each other and your employees won’t feel valued if you don’t listen to their ideas.

Being a good leader takes more time and energy than most people realise, however you have to nurture and invest in your employees as they are your most valued resource. Follow our advice and listen to your employees; don’t forget that whilst you’re the manager, you’re only human too and you will make mistakes so make sure you give yourself a break every now and then.

Good luck.


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