Can you manage people without trust and respect? Sure, but you won’t be a true leader or get great results.

The connection between employees and leaders has been separating for over sixty years. Most people in America hate their jobs and blame their leaders for the disengagement. Ultimately, the culprit seems to stem from individual leadership styles.

The art of business is constantly evolving. It has come a long way from pushing products into the consumer’s hands to now pampering them instead. There’s a strong pull to lift the public’s spirit and trust since the financial turmoil of 2008. Leadership culture however, is still pumping out miserable team members with leaders who are afraid to let go of the authoritative reign.

Budget cuts are still active and more work is made for employees and leaders alike. Sometimes it’s just easier to tell people what to do; after all, there’s only so many hours in a day. And then there are the strict authoritative leaders who won’t … can’t … don’t know how to lead any other way.

There are shades of grey where authoritative leaders should bend a little in order to gain respect. If you are a leader and have days where there’s little control, little respect, and little production, try implementing a few of these tips from real-life employees who seem to want just a little attention.

#1 — Post the Mission Statement of your organization for all to see.

The value of this one tip will have a bountiful effect. The ability to read why and how the employees of the organization should serve the community or world on a daily basis is an affirmation that keeps them grounded and focused. It provides purpose and gives respect to the heart of their work. It also gives you, the leader, a guideline when it comes to handling and aligning difficult situations.

#2 — Schedule time to visit with individuals in your department/team.

Research concludes that most people feel as though their leader doesn’t know they exist, let alone know their name. In today’s work culture employees want to know they are worth something to someone and that their work is making a difference. They won’t know their value unless you tell them. Get to know your team. Set a little bit of time aside every day or once a week to carry on a small conversation.

#3 — Share a story.

In the break room or during an office gathering, incorporate a favorite or relevant story from your past. Employees want to know you’re human. Believe it or not, most team members believe their leader is from another world, or born with horns or without a heart. In order to build trust, without which you are only a boss, not a leader, let them know a little bit about you. This simple act brings you into their world and they begin to believe you might actually bleed after a paper cut.

#4 — Start every private conversation with a genuine interest in their life.

When an employee needs to be called into your office for questioning or disciplinary actions, lower your shield. There’s immediate tension in the air and no one wants to be talked “at.” Talk “with” them; begin the conversation and ask about their family, their children, and/or their hobbies. This authentic technique lowers the armor and opens the door to a better understanding over the situation. If you end the meeting with, “By the way, how’re your children?” they’ll hate you even more.

#5 — Leave the mess behind.

Once you privately discipline or talk with an employee over a mistake that was made, move on. End on a positive note. Every minute, every day is a new beginning and as the leader, you set the example of lessons learned. Employees tend to dwell in the past and turn their mistakes into mountains. Keep calm, nip it in the bud, and carry on.

Following rules is necessary, but is leadership all black and white? I believe there is a gray area of compassion and vulnerability in which authoritative leaders need to bend a little. Fifty shades of grey, you ask? No, probably not. But I bet there are at least a few areas where you, as a leader, can let go and listen.

Photo: Flickr/Tulane Public Relations

Originally shared at Good Men Project.


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