Anytime I ask a leader if they think they are a respectful leader the answer is ‘yes’. Yet when I ask their team if they feel the same way, majority of the time the response is a ‘no’. Usually it is because the leader thinks that that they are respectful because they do not necessarily lead by ‘fear’ or aggressive authority. But there is so much more to respect than that.
Back in my early days as a leader, I used to start the year by setting myself annual behavioural goals, and ‘showing my colleagues respect’ was on the list three years in a row! Not because I was aggressive, dictatorial or intentionally rude. It was because I honestly did not know how to shut my mouth. I constantly needed to speak, I interrupted when colleagues spoke (not because I was trying to be rude, but because I was excited) and I would barely listen because I was always waiting to speak.
Did I do any of these things because I wanted to be in charge and not allow others to say what they had to say? No, it was just a poor, excitable habit of mine that I was very aware of and understood how it was a sign of disrespect. So, I worked my way out of the habit! This is the important thing. Simply believing that you are respectful does not make it true, you have to be aware of what you are doing.
Ask yourself honestly:
1. Do I accept that I am not always the smartest person in the room?
2. When I disagree, do I explain why?
3. Do I understand there are occasions when I am wrong?
4. Have I ever hesitated to say I am sorry?
5. Am I consistently patient?
If the answer to any of these are ‘no’ or ‘sometimes’…Wake up and smell the coffee! We have work to do…
Written by Sahar Habib
Founder of Coach Wilson