How to Defeat the Dangers of Disrespect

By Jeff Collins – November 27th, 2013


Foolish leaders disrespect intentionally. But, for many, disrespect is accidental.

Disrespectful leaders demoralize the team.

You’re disrespectful when you:

  1. Answer for others in meetings.
  2. Help when help isn’t needed. Over-helpfulness suggests others aren’t capable.
  3. Make choices without input from those impacted. Unilateral decisiveness feels like a putdown to those on the receiving end of your decisions.
  4. Minimize successes and maximize failures, in the name of improvement.
  5. Neglect common courtesies like good morning. The first thing to go when you feel time pressure is good manners. Disrespectful leaders talk at, speak down, and interrupt.
  6. Assume negative intention.

People who feel disrespected:

  1. Disconnect and withdrawal. Disrespect is so painful that pulling back is inevitable.
  2. Distrust. They don’t trust you when you disrespect them.
  3. Lose respect for you. Disrespect invites disrespect.
  4. Slowdown in protest.
  5. Sabotage the process or results.
  6. Never give you their best.
  7. Leave the team either literally or emotionally.

Thanks to the Leadership Freaks who gave input on Facebook!

Seven expressions that show respect:

Feeling respect is feeling valued.
Giving respect is valuing others.

  1. “What does respect look like to you?” (The most important question.)
  2. “You can do better. Let’s talk about how?”
  3. “What are you doing that I’m missing?”
  4. “Here’s why your work is important.”
  5. “Your skills matter. Would you like to add more?”
  6. “Thank you.”
  7. “How are you facing your current challenges?”

Special concerns:

  1. Agreement and respect are separate issues.
  2. The most powerful context of respect is disagreement.
  3. The ability to act on input or feedback is distinct from receiving it respectfully.

Dumb leaders devalue others. Foolish leaders inadvertently tell others their work isn’t important.

The first step toward earning respect is showing it.


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