There are many types of leaders and leadership styles, but no matter how you lead, there is a distinct binary that exists in the business world: respect and fear. You can choose to earn the respect of your employees and use that as a tool to foster positive corporate relationships, or conversely, you can use the authority that comes automatically with leadership as a crutch and lead by invoking fear in your employees. Using your authority in this manner may get you short-term results, but it will never result in long-term success. Respect is earned, whereas fear is something for the weak to fall back on.
Respected leaders are not always well-liked, but the alternative is to give into weakness through either fear or cowardice. If you wish the earn the respect of your employees as a leader, follow these four tips.
Be open to criticism
You may be in the position to give your employees constructive criticism; however, don’t forget that they are judging you as well. If your employees come to you with concerns about the way you conduct your business or how the team is performing as a whole, listen to them and acknowledge their concerns. If you’ve done something wrong, own up to your mistakes. Even if something was not directly your fault, respected leaders always take responsibility for their actions and look for ways to improve rather than trying to shift the blame.
Engage with your team
You may have the corner office and the fat paycheck and be “the boss,” so to speak, but no matter what rung you’ve reached on the corporate ladder, you are no better than anyone else. Be sure not to put yourself on a pedestal. Instead, recognize the merits of each of your employees and work with them as part of a team. Get to know your employees on a personal level, and recognize their ideas and hard work. Give credit where credit is due.
Honesty is one of the most effective ways to earn respect. Be transparent with your employees about anything going on in the office that will affect them, and encourage them to do the same. If you create an honest environment, your employees should feel comfortable coming to you with any problems as opposed to hiding them in fear of the repercussions.
Lead by example
Finally, this biblical quote may be ancient, but it has not lost its relevancy: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Anything you ask of your employees, you should have done yourself or be willing to do. In a leadership position, your actions set an example for how you would like the rest of the organization to behave. According to Fast Company, “Leaders who are highly respected will put in at least as much time and effort as those they serve. Often they will lead by being the hardest working person on their team.”