Leaders who show respect get the best results

Those of us in Melbourne have just returned to six weeks of lockdown. We had a pleasant reprieve for a couple of weeks of coffee meetings. I got a shock in one of my first in-person conversations, when my friend looked me in the eye and asked me a question. I think I was so used to being online, I had forgotten what it is like to connect with another human being face-to-face. Video platforms have served us well and kept us in touch with each other, but you never make real eye contact or see all the non-verbal clues with the person on the screen.

Remote working is likely to continue to be an important part of the mix for most organisations, regardless of your location. My face-to-face experience reminded me we need to supplement online communication to keep the human connection alive. 

I am interviewing leaders who focus on connecting with others for the book Dean Phelan and I are writing, The Gentle Art of Leadership. These inspiring leaders treat people with dignity and respect and get the best from them. Many of them have remote teams, so during this period they are checking in with people outside their usual transactional meetings. They try to understand their personal and family concerns. Their team members appreciate the respect that comes from being understood and appreciated. 

Showing people respect is not just a nice thing to do, it leads to bigger results in the long term. A 2015 study showed that high-trust companies “are more than 2½ times more likely to be high performing revenue organizations” than low-trust companies. Yet over half (54 percent) of US employees surveyed claimed they were not regularly shown respect by their leaders. 

One of our interviewees, Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell Soup Company, wrote over 30,000 individualised notes of thanks to his 20,000 employees over nine years. He treated employees with respect and reaped the business benefit. In that time, he took the business from near collapse to setting performance records, including outpacing the S&P fivefold.

🙋 How do you maintain the human connection? 🙋‍♀️

Best regards, Brian

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