June 25, 2013


As a leader, the idea of demanding respect is ludicrous. Respect can't be demanded any more than I can wake up tomorrow and demand that the sun come out or the rain go away. Commanding respect, on the other hand, is a road that many leaders successfully learn how to navigate - gaining respect through courageous action or decision. I think General Patton or Michael Jordan are just two examples of millions of leaders who have managed to pull this off. That said, I'm seeing several leaders these days who are quite possibly misunderstanding what it really looks like to command respect. The bottom line - especially if you are leading other leaders - is that someone's respect is a treasured prize that you and I have to earn. I believe there are some clear distinctives to help us make sure we're not assuming or expecting other people to automatically follow right behind us. How can we make sure we're not assuming, demanding, or even inappropriately commanding respect?

First off, in any leadership role, you're going to have to make tough decisions. You will have to be the one to decide "NO" we're not going to go through with that event or "YES" we're going to take the risk and spend that money. And while there are times (thankfully) that a board or team can corporately make these decisions, there are other occasions where leaders can't hide behind these teams. YOU have to make the call. But this is when and where the HOW comes into play. We have to make these decisions humbly and prayerfully, while also making them confidently and courageously. Make no mistake: Most of the time, people understand the burden of the decision you're facing. They don't envy you. At the same time, if you've assumed and accepted the role and responsibility of leading, they expect that you expect to have to make these decisions. Why else would you be a leader? HOW we face and make these decisions play an enormous part in whether or not people trust us, want to follow us, and ultimately respect us. 

Another foundational ingredient to earning someone's respect is to actually and genuinely care about them. We often preach and tout that PEOPLE are more important than programs or products. Yet, there are times when a person needs our time and attention, only to come up feeling like the task at hand was important than they are. And where this ultimately leads someone is to the conclusion that they are being used - that they're a pawn rather than a person. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean you're going to have an hour to give everyone during your week. But if you organize and prioritize, you can find a way to give 15-20 minutes. You can take 10 minutes to genuinely listen. You can spare 5 minutes to pray with that person in need. When the people you're leading know that you care about them, you don't need to worry about demanding - or even commanding - anything. When you're honest with them about who you are and what you're dealing with, they may not understand it, but they respect it. They respect you. The question is: What (or WHO) do you genuinely care about most?

Lead courageously. 
Lead with integrity.
Know that integrity - more than anything - fosters credibility.
Credibility inspires trust. 
Trust earns respect.

"But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all." - Jesus (Mark 10:43)

Are there other things that you can do to earn the respect of those you're leading?

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