There are a handful of key factors in the world that drive people to follow orders, such as fear, mutual benefits, love, and money. Out of all of them, respect is the hardest to earn and lose. Once you gain respect, you gain it for good, which is why it’s so important.

Respect is also the most powerful way to command obedience from your employees, given that it is a resilient factor that can withstand reversal of fates and bad times, unlike fear or greed.

The importance of respected leadership is neither a secret nor is it a phenomenon exclusive to business. From politicians and religious leaders to football coaches, everyone in a managerial position with people under them, knows the value of respect all too well, and yet, so few of them are actually able to earn it. Today we are going to highlight five of the main reasons why top-level company executives often end up losing the respect they expect to have by default.

Coming Off as a Pushover

There is a difference between being seen as a boss with a kind heart and a boss who is a pushover; a difference that will make all the difference between respect and ridicule. Be the kind of boss who looks after the company employees whenever possible and offers aid to them when they really need it, because that is the kind of man/woman who inspires respect in others.

You can take this too far though. A boss who is considered to be a pushover by the employees will not be taken seriously. If the boss seems too eager to please the employees and accepts their demands in fear of losing their goodwill, employees will not respect them. If the person who is supposed to make the right decisions for everybody seems dependent on their perception, that’s a huge mistake and it will result in a loss of respect.

Coming Over as Indifferent

Indifference is worse than criticism, especially in a business setting. When the boss calls you in to discuss details of the work you just did, you know that they were paying attention, which makes you feel that your work is important. 

On the other hand, if the manager appears indifferent to the workforce, you will probably assume that they won’t care whether your work is excellent, adequate, or not up to scratch. In addition to losing respect, this may lead to the degradation of products/service quality, due to loss of morale.

In order to maintain morale, it is important to show that you care, because if the boss doesn’t care who the best salesperson of the year is, it is possible that the effective employee will feel underappreciated, making them indifferent to the job as well.

Neglecting the Role of Proper, Two-Way Communications

Perhaps the most important tool or soft skill in the arsenal of any business manager is their ability to communicate effectively. As Aston University points out in this article, 97% of all employees ardently believe that seamless, two-way communication between management and workers is absolutely vital. In the absence of free and open communication lines between the leader and the workers, rest assured that respect will be the last thing on their minds!

Sometimes, employers do not communicate as well as they should with their workforce, simply because they don’t understand how to do that well. At times, it’s a simple matter of not knowing how to talk to your people, rather than being too proud to talk to them. Unfortunately, in both cases, the outcome will not be in favour of either party.

If that applies to you, then invest some time in completing a few soft skill development courses, or better yet, complete a MSc in Business and Management to get a proper hold of the concept, as well as learning how to use the most effective tool in business with maximum effect.

Trying to Run Your Company Like a Military Regiment

Don’t follow poor advice and act like a military commander, because companies are not regiments! The most successful companies in the world are not run like a military platoon, and doing so will not only earn you a bad reputation, but you may soon start facing lawsuits!

Stay humble and consider yourself to be an employee as well, albeit the most important one. If you know better, instruct them, and if an employee knows better, let them have the lead on that part of the conversation. Respect is earned when it’s given, so give respect where it’s due and you will get back yours in time.

You Don’t Conduct Yourself Like a Leader

How you present yourself and how you decide to conduct yourself in front of your employees will also play a huge role in determining the level of respect they have for you. For example, if you dress shabbily, it will send a subconscious message to them that you don’t respect yourself enough. Feel free to break the norms a bit, but your behaviour and appearance must be consistent with your position in the company. Visual cues are more important for earning respect than you might believe because your workers are human beings and all human beings are highly visual by default.

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The thing about respect is that you need to earn it, and no one will give it to you for free. Sure, the company employees might not ever tell you directly, but if you are not respected as a business leader, you will feel it. Give them a reason to respect you, you can improvise this until it comes naturally. For the most part though, efficient and meaningful communication is the most important factor of them all.

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