Respect is not something you can demand or force people to give you. It is something you inspire in others through your behavior.
Some people are naturally respectful and will treat you respectfully unless you give them a reason to stop. Others may think you have to earn their respect to get it.
While you can’t change other people’s beliefs about respect, you are 100% responsible for how you show yourself and what you inspire in others.
Much can be learned from leaders who automatically command respect. They are not asking for it but they receive it. Here is what sets them apart.
1. They are dignified
They hold themselves to high standards. They don’t engage in gossip, complaining, or any other activity they wouldn’t want the world to see. They have too much self-respect to join in when others exhibit unsavory behaviors. They feel safe and have nothing to prove, therefore they do not compare themselves to others, brag about accomplishments, or name-drop.
2. They are trustworthy
They don’t go back on their word when circumstances change or someone else is asking for a favor. They only make promises that they intend to keep. They know their own limits (in terms of resources or preferences) and do not tell people what they want to hear unless they really mean it. They do not talk about other people behind their back. They also make a point to follow-through on all their commitments and don’t let themselves forget important things.
3. They have a strong back-bone
Leaders who command respect have strong values and high integrity. They live by their own standards and never seek approval or validation. They know how to listen and take input into consideration but are not easy to manipulate. They focus on doing the right thing rather than trying to please everyone. They have a strong moral compass and do what they think is right rather than what is easier or more convenient. They establish healthy boundaries and don’t let people push them.
4. They think of themselves less
They focus on what impact they have on the world rather than the world has on them. They are here to serve a purpose. They do not worry about how they may be judged, or whether they will get what they want. Their attention is not on themselves. As a result, they are free from chronic self-criticism, self-doubt, and irrational fears. By not thinking of themselves, they exhibit genuine confidence.
5. They are competent
Because they do not purse job titles to boost their ego or try to look impressive, they choose positions that fit their expertise and passion. They want to find meaning in their work and do a good job. They focus on their strengths and actively engage in personal and professional development. They are high performers who can be respected and even admired for their exemplary leadership and service.
6. They have emotional intelligence
They know how to feel grounded and secure and don’t let their emotions control their behavior. They know how to listen, motivate, and show empathy. They understand that employees are the institution’s greatest asset and know how to build loyalty. They express appreciation and give genuine praise when appropriate. They also don’t hesitate to help and give some of their time when necessary because they are not above it.
7. They have charisma
They dress professionally and are conscious of their body language. They stand tall, keep their hands relaxed, make eye contact, and give others their full attention. They treat everyone respectfully, regardless of status. These leaders are strong role models and consistent in their behaviors. There are no “off-the-record” moments with lapse in judgement. They inspire trust and cultivate it.
What about you?
Higher ed. administrators often tell me that some people don’t give them the respect they deserve. Sometimes a staff member disregards the direction they were given or a faculty member doesn’t do what they were asked. Administrators blame these behaviors on the “non-compliant” persons and forget that they can take responsibility for what they are witnessing.
Here is why: Only what you allow continues.
At any point in time you can decide that you will make some changes and become the leader who commands respect.
If people get away with doing something disrespectful, they will do it again. By modeling the behavior you want to see in others, setting clear standards and expectations, and adopting the seven habits I described in this article, you can turn around any difficult situation.
If you think it’s easier said than done, consider working with me. I will show you how to implement new strategies and change the way people perceive you and react to you. If you see yourself as a pleaser, or doubt yourself, or fear being more assertive, or want to change any other old tendency, you need to partner up with someone like me who can guide you throughout your personal transformation.
About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits. Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset. For more information and free resources visit ThrivingInAdmin.com