This is episode 107 of my Culture Leadership Charge video series – originally published in December 2022.

Most business leaders see their job as managing results. Results are important, but they’re only half the leaders’ job.

The other half? Managing respect.

Our experience and research lead us to this core truth of business leadership: Employees of all generations desire and deserve a work culture where they are respected and validated for their aligned ideas, efforts, and contributions, every day.

When employees experience respect and validation, they bring their best. They proactively solve problems, work cooperatively, and wow customers. They feel a part of something positive and powerful – and they love working for you. So, they stay.

When employees are discounted, dismissed, and demeaned, they disengage. They invest little. They spot problems but don’t fix them. They do the minimum – and look for ways out of the organization. Many quit and leave. Some quit and stay.

Respected employees build your business. Disrespected employees have no compelling reason to do that – so they don’t.

How can you build a culture of respect in the coming months?

Define exactly what you mean by respect – then model it, celebrate it, measure it, and hold everyone accountable for it.

A definition alone isn’t enough. You must formalize tangible, observable, and measurable behaviors that specify how you want people in your organization to demonstrate respect.

Valued behaviors are “I” statements that describe how you want people to treat each other – in every interaction, every day.

Here’s how one client formalized the valued behaviors that embody respect.

  1. I communicate directly with the people involved at every opportunity.
  2. I seek and genuinely listen to others’ opinions.
  3. I come prepared and actively participate in every interaction.
  4. I validate each person’s talents and contributions within the organization.

When you read these valued behaviors, there is no question about how staff must interact to effectively model respect. Nothing is left to individual interpretation. There is no confusion about what “respect” means – it’s defined in behavioral terms.

To build credibility and confidence, leaders must be role models of these behaviors. By demonstrating these behaviors, validating the demonstration of these behaviors by others, measuring these behaviors, and mentoring those who struggle to embrace these respectful behaviors, leaders

Learn more about our proven approach and how to measure values alignment in our Amazon bestselling book, Good Comes First.

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers: Good Comes First (2021) and The Culture Engine (2014).
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