The 100 percent solution: One common need is always successful in any interaction, and that is respect
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield made famous and drew a lot of laughs for his line, “I get no respect, I tell ya.” In reality, a lack of respect is not a laughing matter. In fact, when it comes to leadership, it can be one’s undoing.As I continue to speak and write about the concepts of leadership, I am always asked what one book to read that will explain the subject. I always reply there is no one book, and no single rule. However, I do think there is one common need that is always successful in any human interaction, and that is respect. Imagine what we might do if we always practiced it?No matter what the issue I am dealing with, either personally or with clients, I always look for the respectful solution. When I am teaching leadership and I attempt to express my ideas, I always come to respect. When I am dealing with my kids, I ask myself how I can maintain mutual respect between us. It’s like the magic answer to any problem. Yet it seems to be missing from society in so many ways.Throughout history, every blunder can be directly linked to not respecting others, therefore not knowing, listening to, acknowledging or caring about others. In its place is judging people without the facts, exploiting situations and people unfairly and misrepresenting ideas to hurt the other.I think the most prevalent and obvious place I see disrespect is in our political system. I get that our system is built on competing ideas, and that debate and dialogue is good for sorting out what is best. I love debate. However, it seems to have slipped into the realm of the absurd. We have serious issues to solve, and yet in political circles the intent is disrespecting the competition. Lack of respect seems to me a weak strategy.Good examples of respect can be found in the many businesses that stuck with employees through this recession or that were at least honest with people about the situation. When things turn around, these leaders who demonstrated respect will have access to people, ideas and opportunities because people respond positively to respect.A core valueWhen we give (and therefore gain) respect, we are recruiting people to cooperate, participate and give their best. When respect is present, people behave better and work better together. And the most interesting thing is it’s contagious. Imagine what a room full of people who respect each other can get done. That is a productive organization, and that will be more prevalent in the future.Leaders, professionals and successful companies demonstrate respect every day. It is a core value to them. These are some considerations to creating respect in your professional life.Respect yourself, and everyone will respect you back. If you respect yourself, others will want to share that feeling, and naturally will feel respect, too. People are attracted to people who respect themselves.Listen to people, demonstrate your interest in them and their ideas. Don’t just get your idea across. Attract them to your idea through listening first. That is respectful and demonstrates that you value them.Be aware of the respect between people. If you don’t feel the respect, offer it to them and begin building a bridge – don’t make them earn it, but instead, give it. If they never give it back, other people will notice you tried.Don’t tell anyone anything. You’re not the boss of ideas. You are a partner in the effort to create ideas. While you may be the boss of responsibilities, you need others to lead, and you can lead best through creating respect. Respect does not come from orders.It is my experience that any two people can create respect between them. If you look around your world and notice barriers between you and someone else, take a few moments to open the door of respect, and see what happens.Benjamin Franklin said, “The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.”All good leaders know this.Dr. Russ Ouellette, managing partner of Sojourn Partners, oversees The Future of Everything Project, which brings together thought leaders from diverse backgrounds to brainstorm, collaborate and craft a vision of “what can be.” The project participants on this topic included John Robinson of Our Ability and Charlene Ouellette from the New Hampshire Dental Hygiene Association.