[management by God] r-e-s-p-e-c-t

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

November 2, 2010

In the infamous lyrics sung by Aretha Franklin, one verse goes something like this,

I’m about to give you all my money,
And all I’m askin’ in return honey,
Is to give me my profits,
When you get home.

As The Queen Of Soul sings about wanting a little respect, one thing is certain. It requires an investment.

As we discuss at the fifth qualification for the executive-leader, which is the requirement of being “respectable”, we’ll look at some of what it takes in the workplace in order to achieve this.

The first thing that I want to do is to take a look at this word “respectable”. I want to point out that the focus here is not on whether respect is given or not. Many people believe that their position or title demands respect. I’ve also seen people who’ve been given certain levels of responsibility wonder why the people around them do not respect them (or obey them).

People often think that respect is given to them when authority is bestowed upon them. This is an incorrect assumption, and often causes great deals of frustration, and results in huge roadblocks in achieving your desired success.

Notice that the the word respect is followed by the suffix “-able”. This is something that you are responsible for. It’s a characteristic or quality that you put on your self. There’s an element of personal responsibility here, because if you want to have respect, then you must first become respectable.

This qualification for the executive leader is about making yourself worthy of respect.

MonsterTRAK Career Coach Peter Vogt write about respect in his article, Four Ways to Earn Respect at Your First Job. I thought his pointers were very appropriate for everyone, so I thought I’d share them with some of my own thoughts about each…

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

I’d actually phrase this concept a little bit differently, but think that the core concept at play here is extremely important. Vogt talks about not trying to be the big-shot right out of the gate. I call it walking with humility.

In another post that looked at a principle in the Proverbs (a dash of humility). I pointed out that, “If you are running around like ‘Mr. Know-It-All’, then you are likely snuffing out opportunities for others to get involved.” People don’t easily respect the know-it-all, but find it much easier to respect someone of great humility. This doesn’t mean that you must diminish yourself or appear weak. You can be strong and powerful… and humble.

A Sincere ‘Thank You’ Goes a Long Way

I believe this is much more than simply expressing gratitude, but is about helping others to feel important. People that earn respect not only know how to keep themselves down to earth, but also know how to lift others up.

Imagine this… you and your boss just got done working on a big project. When people start noticing it and complimenting it, how does it make you feel when you boss (who carried part of the load) responds to praises about the project with a, “thanks, but such-and-such (you) really carried this thing, and did a great job with it.”? Especially if you’re in earshot of that conversation, I’m sure it would raise your level of respect for your boss, simply because of how they made you feel valued.

Few Go Above and Beyond

I’ve been on projects before where some people really just do the job, nothing more, nothing less. They’re very good at what they do, but there’s really nothing more. I’ve also been on projects where some people not only do their job, but go beyond their responsibilities to ensure that they knock it out of the park.

It’s not so much about putting in extra time, but just that going above and beyond. However, there’s a fine line with this one, because you want to be careful not to tread in someone else’s territory. This can often make people resentful, and make them think that you’re trying to say that they’re doing a poor job. The best way to go above and beyond is to find gaps that no one is filling, and fill them. This shows that you take initiative, and are dedicated to success.

Listening is Highly Underrated

After developing training for (and training) Customer Service Reps, I’m convinced that listening is a skill that does not get enough attention these days. There is nothing that says “you are important” more than truly listening to people. Listening says that you care about what someone has to say. You are putting their needs before your own.

Learn the art of asking questions, and control yourself when people respond. Show them that you’re listening by practicing “active listening” skills. I could write a whole series on the importance of listening, but for now just practice shutting your own mouth for a while and just listen. If nothing else, you’ll learn a lot, and may be amazed at how much people will then want to hear what you think.

Questions to consider:

  • How can you put other people’s needs before your own today?
  • What gaps are there in your current processes and projects that could use some attention?
  • How can you practice “active listening” in other conversations that you are having?

Put other people before yourself, and watch how quickly you become a person that people respect. Becoming respectable is completely in your hands, and if you want to be a great leader, then it is your responsibility…

See more from the management by God series!


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[management by God] r-e-s-p-e-c-t

by Dan King time to read: 5 min