Respect Is the Currency of Character-Based Leadership

November 3, 2015

8863891_sMy 6th attitude adjustment was learning that respect is one of the key ingredients to influence. We don’t need people to respect us, but we need to respect them.  Respect and humility are the heads and tails of the character-based leadership coin. Character-based leaders are those who lead from who they are and not their position or performance.

Who we are means our leadership is based on our authentic, genuine self. We can fake it, but eventually, people will feel betrayed. Think about the CEO’s or politicians who have ended up in jail. Inauthentic people spend energy maintaining a facade. Every lie consumes energy forever. We must maintain it, lie further to support it and work forever to keep our story straight. Character-based leaders don’t waste energy maintaining a facade. We don’t have to keep our shields up, to use a science fiction analogy. We are who we are.

Humility isn’t thinking less of ourselves than we ought to. Humility is having an accurate view of ourselves. Respect is accurately viewing and valuing others. Respect is what we do when we recognize others for who they are. Because of my faith, I believe every single human being is a unique, special creation. We’re made in the image of the One who created us. As a result, when a character-based leader accurately understands who you are and how you’re valued and appreciated by our Creator, then they must also respect you. They understand your value and appreciate you. Respect is what we do when we appreciate the value and the power of another individual.

Speaking of power, respect understands each individual has the ability to choose. Our team members and our volunteers, or our vendors and our customers are free agents. They choose to participate for their own reasons and their reasons are valid to them. We can’t violate their reasons or they’ll leave, resign, raise their price or buy from someone else. Character-based leaders appreciate everyone is a volunteer and, as a result, they operate with respect.

Violating that respect should create difficulty.  Once, because of anger over the way a customer was treated, I made a statement asking who the blankety-blank was that screwed up the customer. My coworker and team member said they were, and they didn’t appreciate me talking about them that way. It was an embarrassing moment. My attitude was adjusted and I calmed down to apologize.  My anger was unjustified. The mistakes were honest, which made my comments and my attitude irresponsible and offensive. I wish I could tell you I learned my lesson, but character-based leadership is a journey. I often get off track and must be reminded of who I am and who I am not.

We give genuine respect born of true humility to accomplish our goals. Genuine respect is a currency.  Whenever we fail to pay the respect our team members and coworkers deserve, they feel cheated and drained. They eventually withdraw and withhold their energy, passion and effort. Be generous with your respect and you’ll find your coworkers will bring their best energy and passion to the work.
Photo © nickolay / 123RF Stock Photo

2 responses to Respect Is the Currency of Character-Based Leadership


    So refreshing to read an article on character based leadership as opposed to the usual methods of power or exploitation to achieve business outcomes.

    Ironically we only gain power when we give it away and treat others with the respect they deserve as free agents.