Respect Can't be Bought or Demanded

authority leadership positive culture respect working relationships Nov 14, 2023
Jody Holland Training & Speaking | Leadership
Respect Can't be Bought or Demanded

Respect is something that must be earned between two or more people, and despite popular belief, no one is owed respect because of their position. You may have earned a title, but you still have to earn the respect of others. That being said, it is important to note the difference between being respectful and having respect for someone. We should all be respectful in our interactions with others because we want to maintain a positive, amicable work environment. But to have respect for someone requires getting to know them and witnessing their values in action.

A manager who says, “You will respect me and my authority,” but who has done nothing to earn that respect will appear incompetent to those they lead. They use fear to maintain their authority rather than connecting with and building a relationship with the people they are directing. No matter what position you are in, you must demonstrate that you are worthy of respect. It cannot be bought or demanded. The same goes for each individual within an organization – employees must earn the respect of their managers.

We are in a time of transition within the workforce because Boomers are leaving quickly, and Generation Z is entering the workforce left and right. Because of this, we are seeing a shift in values and belief systems. The weight of titles is becoming less and less important to people, which is why it is crucial to understand that respect must be earned. People work for people, not companies. If an individual is unhappy with their boss, they are likely to leave. There is no longer a sense of obligation for people to stay at a company that does not respect or value them.

Part of earning respect as a manager/leader is showing appreciation to those who help the organization run smoothly. Every department plays an important role in the overall success of the company, and it would not be long before you noticed if an entire department was missing. Affirm people for their efforts, recognize when they do something well, and offer guidance if they seem like they are struggling. Talking down to others and using vague demands like, “Do better next time,” will get you nowhere. Be specific when giving feedback, and be respectful in the delivery of it.

It takes time, effort, and consistency to earn someone’s respect, but once you have it, the workplace will run significantly smoother. Be of value to someone else, and focus on building a healthy working relationship with them. Never expect that someone will listen to you just because you told them to. Try to earn their respect by demonstrating who you are and what you stand for. I challenge you to take a moment today to reflect on how you interact with others. Do you show respect to gain respect, or do you put yourself on a pedestal and wait for others to follow you blindly? You must be intentional about earning respect.

After all, as John Maxwell once said, “If you think you’re leading, but no one is following, then you are only taking a walk.”


-Meghan Slaughter

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