Respect is simple but powerful

Photo: Sebastiano Pitruzzello

Ross gave Gary* a big hug when he returned to work after several of his immediate family members were killed in a terrible car accident. Ross did not mind that his hard-bitten executive leadership team members were watching. He knew that it would not be easy for Gary to come back to work after facing such a tragedy. He was genuinely concerned for Gary and his spontaneous hug was an expression of his support for Gary and what he was going through. 

Gary was deeply moved by the simple gesture and even though it happened many years ago, he has never forgotten it.

Showing respect for people is a simple aspect of leadership but it is also one of the most effective behaviours that a leader can demonstrate. Building trust and respect in the way that Ross did is not just a ‘soft’ skill. It has a hard business benefit. 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. However, over half (54%) of US employees surveyed claimed that they don’t regularly get respect from their leaders. Being too busy for common courtesies is no excuse.

Doug Conant former CEO of Campbell’s Soup, is an example of a leader who treated employees with respect and reaped the business benefit.  In his nine years as CEO, he wrote more than 30,000 individualized notes of thanks to his 20,000 employees. In that time, he took the business from near collapse to setting performance records, including out-pacing the S&P by five-fold.

Conant and Stephen Covey have outlined three steps to building trust, connecting with people and making them feel valued.

Declaring intent – declaring what people can expect from you as a leader

Demonstrating respect – walk the talk of your declaration

Delivering results – doing the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons, in the way that you said you would

How could you build trust and respect with the people around you? 

Best regards, Brian

*Names changed to protect the innocent  

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