By Dr. Marc and Marcia Hardy
A recent article stated that as leaders we need to decide if we want to be loved or respected, as though one cannot exist with the other. However, we believe they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we think one is intrinsically linked to the other. As Marc learned from the example of his father, “If you drive people by fear, you will have little respect. But If you lead people with respect, you will have little to fear.”
As leaders, we earn respect through our actions, it isn’t automatically given because of our title or position. Most of those who feel they deserve our respect because they are in a more powerful position usually are not really leaders, they are “beaters.” They practice “beatership®.” Instead of inspiring people to willingly and enthusiastically follow them, they stand behind and beat them professionally, mentally and emotionally into reluctant submission. It reminds us of when we were in Africa speaking a few years ago and watched farmers driving their herds of sheep and cattle down the road with a switch. It doesn’t take a lot of research to know that people do not deserve or like to be treated like livestock.
If you have followed us for any amount of time, you know that we promote the concept of “Sharing Fire” in our personal and professional lives. That means that we strive as leaders and human being to give people the tools and encouragement to create better professional and personal lives. But what does that mean in real terms? What are the tangible acts as leaders that we can perform to help others fulfill their potential? Here are a few unique ideas:
1. Spend time with your subordinates to just discuss their lives.
When you are called to the bosses’ office, do you think it is going to be a good or bad experience? Let’s face it, we usually have high anxiety that it will not be positive. Invite an employee to your office to just talk about their life. Maybe order in lunch, or snacks or coffee. Sit across from them, not behind your desk. Get to know them as human beings who have a life outside of work. Ask what they do for fun, what are their hobbies, who is their spouse, what are the names and age of their children? And if you really want to be respected, remember everything they’ve told you and bring it up from time to time.
2. If employees have children or are caring for someone who is elderly, be flexible.
One of the greatest bosses Marc ever had, Howard Brembeck, once told me that “All activity is expense; only results matter.” He shared a story about an engineer who spent most of his day with his feet on his desk, staring into space. Needless to say, this irritated the other people in the office who were bustling about doing things. But as Howard explained to me, that “lazy” engineer was responsible for many patents and inventions that resulted in breakthroughs and record profits for the company. He didn’t engage in a lot of activity but he got results and that was what paid the bills. So if you have people who have children and need time off for illness, school activities, field trips, teacher conferences, doctor’s appointments, emergencies, etc., make a deal with them that you will be flexible with their working hours if the work they are required to perform is completed when it needs to be. Your consideration of them and their families will be rewarded with admiration, loyalty and respect.
3. Be there for them when you don’t have to be.
Several years ago Marc’s step father passed away. Marc lived three hours away from where the services were to take place, and he asked his boss if he could take a few days off. His boss, Dr. Robert Holm, was very understanding and asked about the arrangements and how Marc’s mother was doing. But even more impressive was that he and his wife drove the three hours to attend the service. He didn’t know Marc’s step father or his family, he simply showed up to let Marc know that he cared. That is being there when you don’t have to be. To this day it is hard to believe he made such an effort, and Marc will always remember him as leader to be revered and respected.
These three secrets will let your subordinates know that you care about and value them. If you treat them with consideration and respect and do the unexpected once in a while, the loyalty you will gain will make them true followers of your lead. Best of all, as we have done here, they will tell stories about why they revere, respect and remember you as a leader.
Dr Hardy and his wife, Marcia, present on “Leadership through Sharing Fire” across the country. If you wish to comment on this article or contact them, please email DrMarc@SharingFire.com or Marcia@SharingFire.com.