I’ve not encountered a leader that wasn’t interested in improving their team (or department or company)’s performance. And it’s rare that I encounter a leader that doesn’t want team members to be engaged and inspired at work.
What is interesting is that most leaders spend much of their time and energy trying to boost performance and very little time and energy on the quality of their workplace environment. Yet their team culture drives everything that happens in their organization, good or bad.
If your work environment doesn’t demonstrate trust, respect, and dignity to every player, every interaction, every day, performance drops, service quality drops, and engagement drops.
Leaders need to shake up their routines and pay greater attention to the health and quality of their team culture. What should they do differently? If you’ve been reading this blog or my books, you know I’ve got a long list of behaviors that I recommend that leaders embrace.
Maybe a long list isn’t needed! A recent HBR study on leader behaviors found what may be the single most important leader behavior – demonstrating respect.
In a study of nearly 20,000 employees around the globe, no other leader behavior had a bigger effect on employee well-being and health (56% benefit), trust and safety (1.72 times better), enjoyment with their jobs (89% better), greater performance focus (92% benefit), meaning and significance (1.26 times greater), and engagement (55% improvement).
Those are impressive gains in critically important areas. The challenge is that 54% of employees report that their leaders do not regularly respect them. This represents a huge opportunity for leaders.
I know what leaders are thinking about now: “OK, tell me what I need to do to demonstrate respect to my players!” There’s no single “right” way to demonstrate respect! Respect means different things to different people.
To properly demonstrate respect, leaders must connect with the unique individuals on their team – not “team leaders” or “team members.” Some players may want a few minutes of face time to share an idea they have for boosting efficiency. Other players want a look in the eye, a kind smile, and a handshake. One player might appreciate being called out in a team meeting for a contribution – another on the same team with a similar contribution might be more embarrassed at being called out in a meeting!
Demonstrating genuine respect takes time. It requires personalization. It requires a servant heart. Without those things, efforts will look stilted and forced, not genuine and heartfelt.
I won’t stray from my “long list” of recommendations for leaders that wish to create workplace inspiration and performance. Those practices work! I will, though, happily recommend starting with – and continuing with – leaders demonstrating respect to their team leaders and team members.
How do (or did) your great bosses show respect to players in your team or department? What was the impact on you when he or she showed you respect? Share your comments, suggestions, and insights in the comments section below.
How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.
Want hands-on guidance for building a safe, inspiring workplace? Join me in Denver for my Culture Leadership Roundtable. This one-morning-a-month series starts in March 2015 and ends in September.
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