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15 Ways to Leverage the #1 Contributor to Job Satisfaction for Leadership Success

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports, for two years running, that respectful treatment of all employees at all levels is the #1 contributor to job satisfaction. Compensation, trust, and relationships matter, but respect tops the list.*


You can’t look down on others and lead effectively at the same time.

Nearly 80% of people who feel disrespected are less committed. About half intentionally give less effort.**

Expressions of disrespect include:

  1. Threats.
  2. Unearned advantages.
  3. Brown-nosing higher ups.
  4. Secrets.
  5. Inequities.
  6. Favoritism.
  7. Attention to weaknesses and neglect of strengths.

Disrespect destroys satisfaction.

Things disrespectful leaders say:

  1. It’s about time.
  2. You’ve got to be kidding.
  3. What were you thinking?
  4. You never get this right.
  5. You always….


Worry more about showing respect and less about receiving it.

Show respect if you expect engagement, performance, and commitment. Speak and act respectfully when you give negative feedback, correct issues, or point out deficiencies. 

15 ways to increase leadership effectiveness with respect:

  1. Never casually dismiss an idea or suggestion.
  2. Confront jerks and jackholes in the office.
  3. Believe in an employee’s potential. Invisible beliefs are more visible than you might imagine.
  4. Don’t interrupt.
  5. Say ‘yes’ as much as possible.
  6. Tell the truth. If it’s a matter of confidentiality, say you can’t talk about it.
  7. Apologize when you screw up.
  8. Catch people showing respect and pat them on the back.
  9. Accept people where they are, even as you raise the bar.
  10. Acknowledge and value effort.
  11. Express gratitude.
  12. Be available and accessible.
  13. Monitor and modulate your tone of voice.
  14. Listen calmly. Impatience is disrespect. Impatient leaders are saying they’re more important than others.
  15. Eliminate distractions when someone enters your office.

What types of disrespectful behavior have you observed?

Which items on the list of 15 make you feel respected? Additions?

*Full SHRM report

**Reported in HBR

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