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As children, we all learned how to play well with others. We learned to sense how they were feeling, developed empathy, learned to share. We also learned how to stand up for our selves, how to influence others, how to accomplish something together.

As adults, these same behaviours are important in the workplace. There are two groups of behaviours that drive workplace effectiveness:  Love and Respect. 

The Love behaviours are those that make you a joy to work with.  You have empathy for others, emotional intelligence, openness to ideas, a sense of humour, a vision for what could be, consideration for others, humility, enthusiasm, show compassion, politeness. Essentially you are a nice person.  All of these factors have been shown to be linked to positive leadership perception of performance.  It’s interesting, however, that “Love” behaviours have not always been linked to business performance.

It’s likely that other factors such as industry environment or the economy explain some of this gap.  However, I suspect that there is a second set of factors that explain why “Love” isn’t a perfect predictor of performance.   To be truly effective, in addition to being “Loved”, we also must be “Respected”. 

Respect is about self-regulation and high standards.  To create respect, we need to demonstrate integrity, to deliver on our promises, be willing to do the “dirty work” of the organization, to make the tough decisions, to hold ourselves and others to high standards of performance, to be fair but demanding, to be confident, to challenge others to deliver more, better.  Respect is about holding ourselves to a high standard of integrity and performance in pursuit of a vision, and demanding that others do so as well.

Sounds simple, right?  Merely learning and living these behaviours is challenging.  Then, we have to figure out how to balance these two sets of behaviours.  Too much love, and the organization can become a lovely but ineffective place to work.  Too much respect and it can become a toxic, arrogant environment.  And to top it off, the balance between love and respect changes in every situation.

How do we get better at love and respect behaviours?  My friend Louise, the consultant asks, “What is the one thing I can do to be better tomorrow?”  I think that is a great question.  Once I answer that question, I have to do the hard part, I have to put it into practice. 

Being loved and respected is something we all aspire to, but we earn love and respect every day in the workplace.

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3 thoughts on “Leadership: To be Loved and Respected

  1. In my mind love and respect are branches of the same tree and are outward focused in a positive and unselfish way. A big problem (that I have seen repeatedly over the years) is “leaders” who are all about being “liked” – this is almost the opposite of the above “love and respect” as being “liked” is self-centred, sometimes VERY self-centred. I make a big distinction between being liked and being respected. In some ways I feel that showing respect is showing love (of the brotherly persuasion).

  2. In my own experience, a leader that is loved actually impedes progress. Those who love the leader get so comfortable around him/her, that even though the leader continues to have a strong sight of the common goal, his followers are more resistant to take the same course – clearly, there shows a lack of respect.

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