By Richard Martin

Note: This article has previously been published on on 21 Aug 12. Republished on with permission.

One of the keys to being an effective leader is to have the respect of superiors, subordinates and peers. Unfortunately, many new managers and supervisors – and sometimes even experienced ones – focus too much on trying to please everyone. They try to be liked, or even loved, rather than simply doing their job.

Here are the six most important techniques and principles to ensure you gain and maintain the respect of followers, superiors and peers alike.

1. If you want respect, you have to give it. This is probably the hardest one of all. Specifically, you should endeavor to show respect and loyalty to your own superiors, and refrain from gossip and any form of speech that can be construed as undermining the authority of other managers and supervisors. You must also be fair but firm when dealing with disciplinary or performance issues, and refrain from upbraiding people in public.

2. Listen to your followers. This requires you to stay open to constructive criticism, suggestions and questions. The two best ways to achieve this are to meet regularly with your staff and open the floor for questions, or to simply walk around and converse in a friendly manner with your staff, asking them questions about their work, how they understand your approach and direction, answering any questions in the process. If you can’t answer the questions immediately, then tell them you will look into it and get back to them.

3. Provide clear and consistent direction. Ensure everyone in your team knows what is expected of them as individuals and as a group. Give ‘mission’ type direction to experienced people. This is direction that is focused on the end to be achieved rather than the means to achieve it. For less-experienced personnel, there may be a need to provide more detailed guidance that includes how to achieve the objectives. Make sure everyone is aware of and understands the organization’s mission, vision and values. Provide regular updates on the situation, especially if there has been a change.

4. Focus on managing well. Management is the art and science of planning, organizing, directing, coordinating and controlling (i.e., providing feedback). There is nothing that drives people crazier or undermines respect more for the authority and competence of a manager than an inability to do the basics of management well. Work planning, scheduling, providing clear direction, ensuring orders, directives and standards are all critical management skills and form the backbone of sound leadership.

5. Provide constant and consistent feedback. A supervisor or manager should provide performance feedback to all her direct reports regularly and as needed. Regular feedback is best provided monthly or quarterly, using a short written form and face-to-face meeting. This should be supplemented by an annual performance review which is more detailed and formal, and that is integrated with the organization’s performance reporting system. Informal feedback should be given whenever performance exceeds or fails to meet expectations. It is best given verbally ‘in the heat of action’ or shortly thereafter.

6. Take care of your people. Stand up for them with higher ups in the organization if it is justified. Provide developmental opportunities and regular feedback. Ensure they have proper equipment, training and supervision to do their jobs properly. Encourage them, and stay open to questions and constructive criticism of you, your management style or the organization.

© 2012 Richard Martin. All rights reserved.

  1. Great post, Richard!

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