It’s not uncommon to hear some leaders debate about having to choose between being well-liked or well-respected. The simple although not easy answer is that a balance of the two works best. Well-liked leaders who are also respected have not only proven to be successful business managers, but also motivating and engaging mentors.
Be open and transparent, yet respectful. Get to really know your peers. Since 1985 and before he became CEO, Sheldon Yellen, literally carried around a briefcase filled with greeting cards, hand wrote, and sent out 9,500 birthday and congratulatory cards annually to employees of what is now a $1.5 billion organization. He continues this practice today.
Industry giant, GE, is known for placing communications as one of its priorities in selecting its leaders. One of the first things John Flannery did when he took over as CEO of GE on August 1, 2017 was to send a letter to all 300,000 company employees. In an interview with Forbes magazine shortly after assuming office, he cited ”customers, team and execution/accountability” as key tenets of his workplace values. This year the stock has increased by 10%.
Recognize and appreciate the good work of those doing the work. At the same time, be humble and confident while encouraging an atmosphere of innovation, change, and inclusivity.
Well-liked and respected leaders convey empathy while displaying a devotion to diversity. In a sense, they’re servant leaders who are also willing to place themselves on the line with their staff. And the bottom line is they are excellent communicators.
Listening can be one of the most difficult things someone in authority can do. However, it’s also a priceless way to display respect and earn trust. Once that kind of environment is created, things like collaboration, problem-solving and innovation fall right into place.
So, one’s choice of words can have a big impact on the receiver. Ever wonder how a pie or dessert using the same ingredients comes out and tastes so differently when made by different bakers? Using the same words but with different tonalities or inflections can also have a variety of effects.
Communicating with empathy and displaying a sense of understanding through active listening will produce better results and bolster respect with staff and other publics.
Needless to say, managing people can be one of the greatest challenges in any workplace. Each employee has a different personality, interests, skills, values, and ethics. But they’re also affected one way or another by how a manager interacts with them.
A good leader won’t ask or direct employees to do something they themselves wouldn’t do. It sets up a “them” and “me” fence and doesn’t do much for instilling a climate of teamwork. Leading by example is still a value cherished by most employees.
Nor should a leader ask an employee to cancel their vacation because something important arose. It’s not only a show of disrespect but sometimes one of poor planning. Assuming the employee put in for vacation weeks, if not months ago, such a request displays poor management planning in anticipation of that planned vacation.
Similarly, employees should never be asked to work if they are ill. It’s another sign of disrespect and communicates a “company first” attitude.
It may be obvious, but employees should never be asked directly or subtlety to do anything illegal or against company policy. This also goes to falsifying a report or record to cover up an error. Awareness of whistleblower laws have not only heightened awareness of such violations, but this communicates a corporate environment that is the antithesis of what the company founders envisioned.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a digital PR agency.
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