Leading with Respect

Who would you rather vote for?
In order to get people to agree to follow you, you need to treat them with respect. People choose who they will follow and who they won’t. So even if you disagree with a subordinate, you need to at least treat them with respect and dignity despite the disagreement. Let me tell you a true story about two politicians to help you understand why this matters.

I am one of those citizens who write letters to my elected officials when I am concerned about a matter of public policy.  One time, I wrote my congresswoman a letter about a law I wanted to pass. She ended up voting against it, which is fine. The bill passed without her vote anyway. No harm no foul. But it is what she did next that I have not forgotten decades later! Two months after her no vote I finally received a letter from her explaining how she agreed with me that this legislation was important and needed to pass. Again, she had voted against it 2 months prior. This is a REALLY long time to not respond to your constituent. As far as I am concerned she committed three errors. 1) She also assumed I was stupid enough to not realize that she was lying about her voting record. 2) She did not respect me enough to tell me the truth and 3) she took WAY too long to get back to me. It honestly would have been better had she not written me at all. Anyway, I never voted for her again and I consider her to be one of the more corrupt and worthless members of congress to this day.

Another time, another state and another congressional representative and this time I wrote a letter opposing a piece of legislation. My congresswoman wrote back immediately and told me that while she understood why I opposed this legislation and she agreed with me in principle, she was going to vote for this legislation anyway. She spent the rest of her letter explaining why she was going to vote the way she was. It was a well thought out letter. She didn't convince me she was right, but I absolutely voted for her again. Why? Because she respected me enough to be honest and forthright with me and she was prompt in her correspondence. 

The key to being a good leader is to think about how you want your leaders to act towards you. Then be the sort of leader you would respect.  In other words, treat the people you lead as if they are real live humans and not just stepping stones you need to advance your career. 

(Image: "Hand Dropping The Vote Paper" by taoty FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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