The Seven RespectfulDo’s

The Seven RespectfulDo’s are key behaviors that are the foundational practices of Respectful Leadership. They are as simple as smiling and saying “Good Morning” to everyone you meet – even a stranger walking down the hallway. They are highly motivating behaviors, such as when you ensure that you regularly acknowledge your employees for doing the right thing. They’re about getting your “emotional shift” together and not taking out your frustrations on others. They’re about being as honest and as open with your employees as you can be, and apologizing when you’re disrespectful. The Seven RespectfulDo’s aren’t particularly difficult to do, but they do require consistency and authenticity. Practiced together on a consistent and genuine basis, the Seven RespectfulDo’s will help you to create a work environment where respect, trust, collaboration, productivity, and loyalty thrive.

The Respectful Leader - The seven respectfuldo's infographic
The Seven RespectfulDo's - Be the first to respect

1. Be the First to Respect

There’s no question that these days most business leaders are incredibly busy putting out fires, executing strategies and serving customers. And yet, if we go through our lives with our heads down without taking a moment to acknowledge others, then we’re sending a message that we’re the kind of leader who’s distant and pre-occupied, even uncaring.

The Respectful Leader is the first to offer respect to anyone and everyone they meet, whenever and wherever. It’s as easy as making appropriate eye contact, smiling genuinely and saying “hello.” If you’ve ever worked for a boss who did this on a consistent basis, you know how great it made you and everyone else feel. Respectful Leaders are the first to respect.

The Seven RespectfulDo's - practice regular respect

2. Practice Regular Respect

Respectful Leaders say “good morning,” “please,” and “thank you,” to everyone. Most people call this “common courtesy” and learned about it when they were growing up. We call it Regular Respect. Regular Respect is something you should do all of the time. It’s about greeting people warmly and checking in to see how they’re doing. It’s also about really listening to others when they speak, and not interrupting. It’s also about being on time for meetings, and apologizing when you’re late.

It’s about making sure you’re not dominating conversations, keeping foul language and name-calling to a minimum, and avoiding sensitive topics that usually aren’t related to work, like politics, religion or sex. Practicing Regular Respect isn’t about political correctness, it’s about “being a decent human being.” Respectful Leaders try their utmost to engage in Regular Respect all of the time.

The Seven RespectfulDo's - Be respect-worthy

3. Be Respect-Worthy

Like it or not, our employees are always watching us; observing what we say and do and calibrating their own behavior to match up with ours. Given this reality, if we want our employees to treat each other and our customers respectfully, it is imperative that leaders do their best to be “respect-worthy.” Being Respect-Worthy is about being as honest and as open as you can with your employees. It’s about following through on your commitments – actually doing what you say you’re going to do.

Being Respect-Worthy is also about being fair to everyone, being consistent and not playing favorites. It means being clear with your expectations – ensuring that the people who report to you know what you expect from them, without falling into the trap of being the dreaded micro-manager. In short, Respectful Leaders do their best to be worthy of others’ respect.

The Seven RespectfulDo's - Look for Diamonds in the Rough

4. Look for Diamonds in the Rough

If you’ve ever worked for a boss who was always critical of you without ever offering a word of praise, you know how demoralizing it can be. And while it may be easy to call out our employees for what they’re doing wrong, it’s also fairly easy to look for the good in them, too, if we put in the effort. This is called “looking for diamonds in the rough.” Respectful Leaders consistently look for, find, and acknowledge those qualities, skills and perspectives in their employees that are worthy of respect.

They do this consistently with everyone, and encourage others to do the same. When leaders do this, the impact on employees is phenomenal. When people feel genuinely respected and acknowledged, they are proud of themselves. Their self-confidence goes up and their overall attitude is energetic – they have that ‘can-do spirit.’ Respectful Leaders are consistently looking for diamonds in the rough.

The Seven RespectfulDo's - Get Your Shift Together

5. Get Your Shift Together

No doubt about it: shift happens! If you’re a boss, then big, annoying problems and challenges are going to be put in front of you all the time. You’ll react to these things with shifting types, degrees, and intensity of emotion. You need to stay aware of your shifting emotional states and do your best to “get your shift together” before reacting. If you’ve ever had a boss take out their anger and frustrations on you, then you know how unfair and disrespectful it feels.

So, how do you do get your shift together? Sometimes, just taking a deep breath or two is all it takes. Or, try standing up if you’re sitting, or sitting down if your standing. Another way to get your shift together is go outside, walk around, get some full-spectrum light into your eyes. You will feel better! Respectful Leaders always get their shift together.

The Seven RespectfulDo's - Nip Disrespectful Behavior in the Bud, Respectfully

6. Nip Disrespectful Behavior in the Bud, Respectfully

Admit it, there are few things more frustrating than being in a work situation where people are behaving disrespectfully while the boss looks the other way. The Respectful Leader doesn’t tolerate disrespect; they’ll nip it in the bud respectfully as soon as they can. Usually this means taking the disrespectful person aside to a private location and giving them honest feedback about their behavior. One of the best methods for nipping disrespectful behavior in the bud respectfully is called the S.B.I. feedback technique.

The “S” stands for Situation: you describe the situation in which the behavior occurred. The “B” is for Behavior: you describe, using neutral, factual language, the disrespectful behavior you observed/heard. And “I” stands for Impact: you describe, without blaming, the impact of the disrespectful behavior on you and on others involved in the situation. Nine times out of ten the disrespectful person will own their behavior and want to make an apology.

The Seven RespectfulDo's - Offer a Full Apology for Disrespect

7. Offer a Full Apology for Disrespect

If you’re a leader who hasn’t, on occasion, let your negative emotions get the better of you and behaved disrespectfully, then you are truly a Respectful Leader. But most of us have slipped up from time to time and said or done something disrespectful. This is called being human and it happens to the best of us. However, once the Respectful Leader realizes they’ve been disrespectful (or they’ve been given a “heads up” by a colleague), they will offer a full apology. Here’s how you make a Full Apology. There are seven steps…

  • You admit that what you said or did was disrespectful.

  • You say ‘there are no excuses for my behavior,’ ‘I have no excuse.’

  • You acknowledge that you understand how what you said or did hurt the other person.

  • You apologize sincerely.

  • You promise that it will never happen again.

  • You genuinely offer to make amends, to make it up to the person somehow and offer specific ideas as to how you might do that.

  • You start trying to make amends, even if the other person hasn’t accepted your apology or forgiven you.