Jeff got the job he dreamed about, the vice-president of R&D in a new company. Jeff was eager to take this job because of the corner office, an executive assistant and a fancy title but what empower Jeff more, was the fact that he can now order people around and within a couple of weeks Jeff made his mark.
On a Tuesday afternoon a mere fortnight into his tenure, Jeff sent an email out to the team of 30 or so developers with crystal clear instructions. “Everyone stays late tonight. No excuses. The projects are behind schedule.”
That was it. Additional context remained elusive. Fearful for their jobs, all team members complied. There were no further instructions, new assignments, or emails from the boss. Confusion reigned. Everyone just continued coding. At 8 p.m. a couple of the developers ordered pizza for the group. By 9:30 p.m. one of the team leaders approached the vice-president who had remained in his office.
“Jeff, you asked us to stay late. It’s now 9:30 p.m. Is there anything else you wanted us specifically to do? Because we’d all like to go home now.”
Jeff replied, “It was a test. I just wanted to see where people’s loyalty lied. They’re free to go home now.”
Unsurprisingly, Jeff’s lack of concern for the personal lives of his team members backfired once word got out about his antics. A third of the developers left the company within a few weeks, and six months later, Jeff was terminated from his vice-president role. He couldn’t take the corner office with him.
I read this story from Dan Pontefract article It's Okay To Be A Leader And Treat Team Members With Respect, and I immediately thought to myself how….how do these people become responsible for people. Is it that people are recruited into a leadership role with no assessment of their ability to lead? This is primarily why great companies have rigorous recruitment processes because the person who has that enormous leadership responsibility, has the influence to change the trajectory of people lives which will directly impact the organization ability to achieve its purpose.
Always Treat People With Respect
If you are a leader of people, your first task is to care about your team members. Treating people like objects or failing to be humane is not leadership; rather, it’s telling signs of a dictator, according to Dan Pontefract.
Respect Is Not An Entitlement; It’s Earned
First, you have to give respect to receive respect. Treat all of your employees fairly, and express the value you have for them. Listen to your team when they come to you with their ideas or concerns, and never talk down to them or insult them. In short, respect is not an entitlement; it is something you earn as a leader; you must first give respect to receive it.
Listen To What Others Have To Contribute
Listen to your team opinions; show your team that you are genuinely listening. Nothing is more disrespectful than speaking to someone, and they are showing you that they are not listening. It’s the ultimate form of disrespect. As the leader, check your ego at the door. Be aware of your tone, your body language, your expression, and your demeanor during all interactions. Some people can detect the slightest hints of what seems like disrespect, even if you aren’t aware of it yourself.
According to a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), respectful treatment of all employees at all levels was rated as “very important” by 72 percent of those surveyed, making it the top contributor to overall employee job satisfaction.
In respectful workplaces, employees are inclined to work harder, be more inspired and stay productive. In workplaces with little or no respect, employees report more conflicts and misunderstandings and have lower attendance and engagement.
Recognize that, like you; your coworkers, reports, and superiors have rights, opinions, wishes, experience, and competence. They also make mistakes, which are simply lessons to be learned. They have similar concerns and insecurities and share the common goal of wanting to perform their jobs successfully.
Respect in the workplace breeds a healthy work environment. A professional, respectful work culture encourages productivity and growth. Staff works optimally knowing they are valued and respected for their ideas as well as their role within the company. Jeff proves that the opposite is also true if the leader shows no respect for their team, the organization will become toxic, trust will be eroded, the best people will leave, and the organization will eventually become irrelevant.
About Gifford Thomas
I am the founder of Leadership First and the author of The Inspirational Leader, Inspire Your Team To Believe In The Impossible. At Leadership First, we are committed to publishing the very best inspirational leadership quotes and articles to inspire our 145,000+ community of leaders to believe in the impossible, while creating an environment free from toxic, fearful and intimidating leadership. We believe everyone can and should enjoy their work, but it must start with the leadership leading by example. Follow our community of leaders HERE, and let's change the leadership status quo to help inspire and motivate our leaders to make a difference and create an organization their people will love.
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