Respect is an attitude you choose
‘Show some respect to your sister, Harry’, I barked at my 9 year old as he had cast his latest Fortnite aspersion at his small sister, Maggie. The irony wasn’t lost on me as I just remembered who was supposed to be the adult here!
How could I expect Harry to be respectful if my reaction towards him was anything but respectful?
You see, respect must be earned, not demanded. It is one of the most vital and important values that parents can bestow upon their children and is an amazing legacy to leave them with for life.
So what is Respect?
Respect is recognising that everyone has value and treating each and everyone you connect with accordingly. It is an attitude that we choose and is the ultimate requirement to build any successful relationship. Respect is built and earned one decision at a time and true respect is earned through consistency, understanding, fairness and integrity. It has been said that respect is like a mirror, the more you show it to others, the more they will reflect it back to you!
In leadership, one can never move on from the basic positional leadership level without earning the respect from their followers.
And it’s mutual; respect is a two-way street.
All great leaders respect themselves, respect their people and their people them. If you want to measure how much respect you have as a leader, firstly look at who you attract and secondly see how your people respond when you ask them for commitment or change. When leaders are respected, their people step up and sign up; they embrace the change. It is very hard for leaders who do not have respect to get other people to follow.
When you look at some of the great sporting leaders like Joe Schmidt, Briege Corkery and Jim Gavin and the phenomenal success they’ve achieved with their respective teams over the years, the one overarching value that shines out and transcends all others is mutual respect. They have had unfettered respect for and from their teams! And the ‘team’ in question doesn’t just extend to the players on the pitch, it goes much further. It goes to everyone inside and outside the club that has a contribution to make.
Self-awareness is a prerequisite for self-respect. You must know yourself to grow and respect yourself. People say there are two great days in your life; the day you were born and the day you discover why!
So, what are the characteristics of people who have a strong sense of respect?
Well, they are more tolerant and accepting of other peoples differences; they are good listeners, polite and approach difficult situations with humility while maintaining their own integrity.
Mick Sweeney is a member of LIFT Ireland’s Advisory Board and a leadership and financial services transformation expert.