Respect: It's All Or Nothing
Respect is defined as the due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others; per my quick Google search. I think we can agree that’s a pretty accurate description of respect.
Notice it says “due regard”, not ‘mostly regard’, or ‘kinda-sometimes regard’. There is no gray area, no fringe, levels of respect. You either respect someone, or something, or you don’t.
In regards to leadership, let’s focus on two subjects for which our respect is required:
All people and our process.
All people, as in, all of them. Not just the ones on your team. Not just the ones you like. Not just the ones that agree with you. And, not just the ones that can help you get what you want. All of them.
Your process, as in, how you go about doing what you do. Your process is something you get to choose. Choose wisely, then respect it. Don’t waiver or go half in on the process you decided was best. Either fully commit or decommit. Respect your process or change it, then respect that one.
Why Should We Care?
There may not be a more accurate warning than the observation about someone that’s rude to the waiter. If you are rude to the waiter, then you’re rude. Arguments and justifications can range from far fetches to understandable rational. None of them make it ok because respect isn’t something that has to be earned.
Respect is something we choose to give. In leadership, we should choose to give it freely. It’s not a limited commodity. Respect is something everyone is deserving of just because … because that’s how you treat people.
When we start respecting some people, but not respecting others we quickly jeopardize any trust we have established with our team. That’s unstable ground on which to grow your team and impact. Instead of thinking about the true purpose and mission of the group, people lose their sense of safety and begin protecting themselves. Excellence isn’t attainable without the vulnerability, and fallibility, needed to truly go for it.
And, then there is the matter of respecting the process. Partial commitment to the process is no commitment to the process. We like the process when it leads quickly to the results we desire. We like the process when it helps us fit in and feel like we belong. We like the process when it doesn’t require grave amounts of discomfort. The process is awesome in the middle.
The extremes is where we struggle to maintain a respect for the process. Success belittles it and failure deems it incompetent. Of course, neither are true, but you can’t tell us when things are going really well, or really poorly. How quickly we dismiss the very process that led us to the height of our success or the necessary adversity we inevitably face before reaching that higher ground.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Respect is a value most people aspire to have. Few people desire to be disrespectful. The growing problem is people’s lack of awareness in regards to what respect looks like in action. Disrespectful behavior has become accepted far too much. Here are a few ways respect can be displayed in all aspects of life.
Respect is an absolute behavior. You either are, or you aren’t.
There is no replacing it in leadership or life.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.