The Leadership Behavior Employees Most Want
We often search for the most important thing. Christine Porath, associate professor at Georgetown University, along with other researchers, believe the leadership behavior that employees most want is respect.
48% of people who experience disrespect at work intentionally decrease their work effort. 78% are less committed to their organization.*
“Being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, communicating an inspiring vision, providing useful feedback — or even opportunities for learning, growth, and development.” Christine Porath
Respect is a feeling, but showing respect is a behavior.
10 things that make people feel disrespected:
- Looking at computer screens and cell phones during conversations.
- Outburst of anger.
- Cursing and slang.
- One sided conversations. Not listening.
- Wasting people’s time.
- Asking people to re-do work, even though clear instructions weren’t given up front.
- Not following up.
- Not showing up for meetings.
7 ways to show respect:
- Speak to aspirations.
- Talk more about strengths than weaknesses.
- Ask, “What do you think?”
- Take time to ponder suggestions.
- Focus on issues not personalities during disagreements.
- Say please and thank you.
- Feeling understood.
Feeling respected is an individual matter. You must know people in order to respect them. You might try asking, “What could I do that would show my respect for you?”
3 Qualities that enable leaders to show respect:
What makes you feel disrespected? Respected?
How might leaders make teammates feel respected?
*The Price of Incivility, Harvard Business Review
The Leadership Behavior That’s Most Important to Employees, Harvard Business Review
My impatience at times comes across as disrespect to my team. This is something I am focusing on to eliminate. The impatience is really at my own shortcomings but it bleeds out to the people I work with and rely on – not a good plan.
Thanks David. Your self-awareness is cause for confidence. Often, people who show disrespect don’t realize it. Perhaps most of the time. After all, who intentionally shows disrespect?
Dan, I like the suggestion about considering what makes me feel disrespected and respected. I thought back to the best leaders I know. They listen intently, consider your suggestion or comment, and respond thoughtfully to what you have to say. Those disrespecting cut you off in mid-sentence or appear very anxious to stop you from talking.
Thanks Donna. I’m with you. This post was an opportunity for me to reflect on my journey and behaviors.
Points suggested are really powerful. I would like to add some points here- ignoring others in talk and not understanding others need. Many times, you will see that people talk to others while ignoring some people. It may be deliberate or unintentional. When we talk, our eyes movement speak more that what we speak. So, it is important to make eye contact to everyone. People feel respected. Secondly, many people do not feel the need of others. When they talk, they forget to look around whether they are disturbing someone. They fail to realise the impact of their talk. I have witnessed many times, that people love their voice so much that they fail to understand that it actually vitiate the environment.
When someone ignores you, you feel disrespected. And I fully endorse your statement that respect is the most needed in the organisation. When people talk and interact you openly, you feel respected.
I have seen many people talking goody goody on face but actually talk opposite in absence. Such people actually create unhealthy environment and hence create environment to disrespect.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. You bring up a challenge for those of us who get deeply focused on something. We can forget to notice others. Walking down the hall with something on our mind might cause us to look at someone and not see them.
Dan, Things take time as you very well know, respect is not always a given with people from my experiences, it seems, they like to test you to earn their respect, which can be complicated for both parties. I always felt respect was a given, as I was taught to respect my Elders and everyone around you, so as not to be judge mental, we were all servants of the older individuals. Being “respected” is something surely well all desire from our peers, earning their respect takes time and patience at best!
Thanks Tim. It can be frustrating for those of us who were brought up to respect people for their position. I think younger people, in particular, expect us to earn their respect.
I love this post. Working on a respectful culture would improve all relationships – family, friends, community, nations, political settings. Giving respect helps earn respect. Respect begins with common courtesy – something we are sorely lacking today in many places. But it’s also about valuing someone and their ideas that might be different from our own. My number one classroom rule as a teacher was “treat everyone and everything with respect.” It eliminated a lot of “don’ts” because it focused on expectations. Even kindergarten students understand respect if you have that discussion with them.
Thanks Vicki. Sometimes leaders feel they are above common courtesy. Plus, when we are in a rush, we don’t have time for good manners. 🙂 Thanks for jumping in.
The thing that makes me feel not respected is being present but still ignoring me: not listening to what I’m saying and engaging in a conversation – typically an off-topic monologue instead… [Example: Politicians!]
Thanks John. Your comment reminds me that making people feel respected or disrespected isn’t that difficult.
You have rightly pointed out that the respect is more important than the recognition, As a human being it is our duty and responsibility to respect people irrespective of their design and designation. Respected people feels appreciated and they are tend to produce more than the people not respected, at the same time I have one contrary view , some time we have disrespect the people intentionally without any hidden agenda or purpose. It helps, it brings a tremendous change in the behavior of the people , but this is to be systematically and with a right intention. It is said that people leave managers not organization , here also respect and relation plays a crucial role. when people feels disrespected, they feel cheated and they tend to leave the organization. one of my friends had share his superior behavior at work place , the superior was bullying that person, although he was doing his work properly. He could not bear the brunt and ultimately he decided to quit. Some times in meetings superiors feel disrespected. Two days back , I was going through a news paper, the paper quoted that one of the company has banned the mobile phones in the office premises and employees has to deposit their mobiles at the entrance. Albeit, they were given communication devices within the company campus. Reason was, while the chief of the c company presiding the meeting one of the senior staff was playing with his mobile, this was a utter disrespect to the head of the organization, it was role reversal, disrespectful behavior from employees to the employer.In any form disrespectful behavior is not good for organization or individual.
Dan, I agree that respect–along with love and a sense of belonging and belief—is a highly sought-after need of staff members—and perhaps all of us. Your post is excellent, as are your reader’s comments.
I saw a version of the following some time ago: How youth act in their life at home and school today is a REHEARSAL for their life in the future. For example, how they act at home is how they will act in their future home with their husbands and wives. How they act at school is how they will act in their career and profession. How they interact with girl- and boyfriends today is how their interpersonal life will be in their social life ahead. If they are respectful, they will be respected. And, so on. Today is their REHEARSAL for their tomorrow.
What might this be saying about us? That it is possible to begin again. Or that where we are is no accident. Or, if we’re not the respected character of our own story, then we’re either missing the point or we need to author a new story.
In India a student is expected to pay utmost respect to a Guru, teacher or coach. First comes the mother (Because she is the first coach), thereby … and it is the guru, through his or her teachings, points us to God. As per Hindu mythology.
Excessive workloads and trying to do 10 things at once does make it difficult when a staff member wants some one on one time. I have an open door policy which means I have many casual drop ins from staff. Staff feel they have immediate access to me which they value highly. Your article has brought home to me though the importance of being present with my staff. If I genuinely don’t have the ability to focus solely on the staff member at that moment it might be best to offer a more appropriate time for one on one time. Something for me to take into consideration and also to bring up at our next team meeting to discuss.
Thanks for this Dan, really hit home for me. I recently had a discussion with my boss where he asked what support or resources I needed from him to get my job done (paraphrasing). Before I could start to respond, he was already answering his question based on his assumptions. I definitely felt like I wasn’t being listened to and like my time was being wasted.
One thing I will add to the list – not honoring the ending time limit of a meeting/discussion.
WOW! 10 things that make people feel disrespected sounds like it can happen really easily. But only 3 Qualities that enable leaders to show respect, sounds a little more difficult. I know there are 7 ways to show respect but the point I’m trying to make is it’s easy to be disrespectful, to be selfish. It’s hard to put others first and consider their feelings priority. To have that perspective takes work, but it pays off with large dividends.
I have no reason to disagree with what Dan. Respect earns respect. Leaders who do not give respect will only regret later that employees who were good left.
Asking people to re-do work, even though clear instructions weren’t given up front. It happens to me all the time. I really hate that.
Thanks Perspectif. I know what you mean. It’s easy to happen when managers don’t think ahead, or when they tweak people’s work.
Is it happen only due to the incompetence or lack of knowledge in the task given to me or perhaps other factors are involved?
Great, thanks Dan. I suggest that a further way of paying respect to good performers is appropriately addressing poor performance in others. I often find in my work with clients that it’s not only a lack of recognition of good performance that reduces engagement, but also the fact that poor performers are “allowed to get away with it”. Good leaders address both in my view.