14. Leaders Command Respect – 21 Success Sutras for Leaders

Chapter Fourteen

Leaders Command Respect

I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.

 

Albert Einstein

Everybody craves respect, but not everyone gets it. Only the deserving get respect, while the rest get what they ought to. Some people often think that they can command respect based on their titles and positions. However, that is only temporary, and does not come from people’s hearts. Hence, in this chapter we will discuss how to command respect from others.

Lead by Example and Command Respect

John Bytheway rightly remarked, ‘It is better to be respected than it is to be popular. Popularity ends on yearbook day, but respect lasts forever.’ Leaders earn respect when they really deserve it. Manipulation does not help you earn respect, and coercion does not work. Leaders must show genuine warmth to influence others. In today’s world, people crave to be partnered rather than be treated as employees. They like to be empowered, rather than be dictated to, to deliver the goods. They like soft leadership rather than hard leadership. Hence, leaders must set an example and influence others. And if the followers feel that their leaders certainly deserve respect, then they will definitely consider giving them the respect that is their due.

Story of Susan—‘I’m The Boss’

Susan was a proud woman working in a research department. She had worked in the research department for nine years. Her previous background experience totalled six years, thus giving her 15 years of experience. Hence, she built her own base within the research department. Whoever came to the research department had to work with her for some time as per the ‘buddy’ system. In fact, she would guide and groom the new employees irrespective of their experiences in other sectors and companies. So she began demanding more respect from others.

Ron joined the research department after almost 20 years of experience in other companies. As Ron had a passion for research and teaching, he joined the research department to widen his intellectual base and acquire knowledge, as he felt that research was an integral part of teaching. Ron joined the research department to hone his intellectual base so that he could rejoin academics as a faculty member. However, trouble started pouring in from a few seniors in the research department, who began demanding respect rather than commanding it with their knowledge and skills. Ron did not appreciate it, but continued his work as it was part of the training and he wanted to widen his knowledge base.

Susan was instigated by a few more seniors who were of course junior to her in experience in the research department. Susan behaved with Ron the way she did with freshers who enter employment for the first time. Ron realized that Susan had been instigated by others; but he also felt that she was more demanding as she was the seniormost in the research department.

Ron had to author two books with the help of seniors from the research department, without which he would not qualify to authoring books independently. It was a good concept, whereby experienced researchers would guide the new entrants into the department, enabling new employees to learn the nittygritty of authoring books. However, Ron realized that the concept was being exploited by a few seniors within the research department. They did not do any work, but would ask the new employees to do all dirty work, and finally take credit from the top bosses for having guided the new employees. Ron realized that the entire exercise was not aimed at training the new employees to author books, but was meant to harass them and get the work done, as any failure to do so by the new employee would result in him/her being denied the right to author books independently.

Ron took up this matter of exploitation with the senior officials and also brought to the knowledge of the top people the fact that a good concept was being wrongly utilized by way of blackmail and harassment. However, the senior officials stated that this was the rule. Finally, Ron thought innovatively and approached experienced researchers from other departments to fulfil his need to author two books with experienced employees. Ron felt greatly relieved to be free of a few researchers, including Susan, who was demanding too much and ragging others in the name of being the seniormost.

From this story, it is clear that people in senior positions and/or with experience must command respect from people. They should not demand respect just by virtue of being seniors or more experienced. Titles and positions are temporary. What counts at the end of the day is the impression people leave on others by setting an example and guiding others.

Level 5 Leaders Command Respect

What goes around comes around. This is the case with respect as well. When you respect others, you earn respect in return. It is like an echo: If you shout out something good, you hear something good in return, and vice versa. Everyone craves respect, and you acquire it through the way you behave and act towards others. Leaders are aware of this precious commodity and don’t work for respect; rather, they work for satisfaction. For them, respect is a by-product, not the end result. Jim Collins mentions Level 5 Leadership in his book, Good to Great. Most of the top brass in leadership do not look for returns and forget about what, to them, is the least factor—the socalled respect. These leaders contribute with their passion to deliver goods and make a difference to whatever they undertake. Hence, most great leaders do not demand respect. However, they command respect because of their passion, humility and professional will.

People are Better Judges

Most leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Disraeli, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and others earned respect due to their practices and values. They never demanded respect. On the contrary, they commanded respect. When M. K. Gandhi was titled Mahatma (super soul), he flatly rejected it as he had never sought such titles and honours. He did what he strongly believed in, and that was appreciated by the world. Hence, leaders must walk their talk irrespective of the results and consequences in order to earn respect. In this civilized and modern world, people are better informed and aware of what is good and bad, unlike in the past, where everything was kept under wraps and people groped in the darkness. People are the final judges and evaluators; they spot and decide who the leaders are and show them respect.

Respect must be earned, not asked for. The assumption that leaders will be respected based on their positions and titles is a myth. Leaders are respected based on how they treat everyone around them, regardless of position. More than their words, it is their actions and demeanour that command respect from others. Leaders must follow the opendoor policy in order to earn respect from others. They must also walk their talk to influence people, and get them to execute their tasks.

To summarize, as people get the government they deserve, leaders get the respect they deserve. Don’t take respect for granted just because of your position. People are wiser these days and know how to judge others; and they respect only the deserving.