A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Christine Porath called “The Leadership Behavior That’s Most Important to Employees” brings to light something so crucial to good leadership that is unfortunately too often overlooked. In today’s age of billion-dollar unicorns and “disruption,” good old fashioned respect is still the most important thing employees want to see from their leaders.

From a study of 20,000 employees, she found no greater indicator of commitment and engagement at work than a feeling of respect from their leadership. However, many leaders struggle to make this a natural part of their routine. It’s up to you to decide if that might be you or not. Here are a few ways Porath suggests you can intentionally display more respect towards your employees.

See yourself at your best. By asking coworkers, friends, and family to give you detailed feedback about how they see you when you are performing in your ideal environment you can better understand the circumstances that make you thrive. Create a simple list of questions that can be responded to via email.

Discover your shortcomings. Even if you already have an idea what your interpersonal weaknesses are, now is a great time to collect feedback from your most trusted colleagues to get a real assessment of their perceptions. Sending an anonymous survey to your entire team is another way to collect reliable, actionable information on their perceptions of you as a leader.

Work with a coach. Coaches often use interrogative methods to unearth assumptions and beliefs you didn’t even detect in yourself, or that your friends and employees couldn’t identify or weren’t comfortable discussing. Coaches provide specific, actionable advice, and work with you to set goals and create accountability for them.

Ask, specifically, how you can improve. Once you’ve spent time with the assessments (good and bad) from your colleagues, friends, and family and understand the specific areas of improvement, ask for specific suggestions on how to meet those goals. Each suggestion is equally valid. Try your best to never react negatively or defensively to a suggestion.

Make sure your team helps keep you accountable. Be open and honest about the behaviors you are trying to change and ask them to help you achieve that. Check in with them periodically, individually or as a team, and ask for specific notes on your progress.

Make time for reflection. Keep a journal where you are brutally honest in the assessment of your progress in being respectful to your employees. Write down instances where you lacked respect and write as much as you can about the experience. What happened before, during, and after? How will you change next time?

This very important project begins and ends with self-awareness. You have an inkling inside you right now that says how respectful you generally are towards your employees. If you know that you need to improve, now is the time to start. Do you want to further discuss the dynamics between you and your team? Email me at Scott@doubledareyou.us.

photo credit: Ben Nevis Pano 1 via photopin (license)