Knowledge Center


Article -> Mutual Respect in the Workplace

Date Added: October 2017

Recent data demonstrates the importance of respect in the workplace. Employees respecting their leader, and leadership respecting employees. So much that it is a top identifier of employee satisfaction.

A Gallup Inc. study notes “respectful treatment” as the No. 1 contributor of employee satisfaction, followed by compensation and “trust between employees and senior management.” Only 33 percent of U.S. workers are engaged and 20 percent say they are motivated by leaders.

A separate study asked what about a bad leader causes people to quit. When summarized to one thing, the real reason people quit is lack of respect for their leader. We know relationship with a direct leader is a key item for resignations; although it is fascinating when seeing respect – especially given the Gallup study correlation.

On the positive side, Clorox CEO Benno Dorer who was voted as America’s top-rated CEO with a 99 percent approval rating from employees stated, “What I care about is results, versus how many hours you put in.” Summed up, he promotes flexibility and trusts his employees. In return, they admire and have tremendous respect for him.

How do leaders gain respect from employees? Be kind. Be flexible. Hold them accountable. Act with grace and humility. Communicate clearly and often. Set a clear strategy and vision. Have their back. Simply said, “show proper respect for everyone.”

Another study recently discovered that 45 percent of employees have trust and confidence in the job being done by their organization’s top leaders. At first blush, this seems pretty good; until you discover this is down from 55 percent in 2014. In just three years, trust and confidence declined 10 percent.

I have had several leaders who I disagreed with; although only one which I disrespected as both a leader and person. Regarding leaders I disagreed with, I always worked hard and did what was best for the company, because while we disagreed; I still respected their leadership role, vision, communication, and business acumen. I chose to respect them as individuals – even though we disagreed on how to approach things.

I struggled doing this for the leader I disrespected. The leader lacked ethics, was rude to people, threatened employees, did not communicate well, did not represent the organization well, and had a poor professional appearance. All items related to lack of trust and confidence in this leader; and ultimately, lack of respect.

Leaders who have communicated well, provided autonomy and flexibility, trusted me, and had my back with peers and/or senior leadership are the ones I respected the most. My own employees once said, “I would do anything for you and would never let you down.” My first thought was, “Is this due to fear?” (not good if this was my leadership style).

Fortunately, the employees clarified it was not fear, but the other factors mentioned above – kindness, caring, communication, strategy. In the end, they respected me because they knew I respected them, while also having trust and confidence in them.

In addition, a leadership factor to add is to use your heart vs. your head. Speak with your heart. Get to know your employees. Care about them. This relates to respecting them.

If leaders respect and trust employees, employees will return this to leaders. This equates to greater productivity, more engagement, and higher retention. Leadership is not complex, we just make it complex.

Employees will do the right thing if leaders have faith, trust and confidence that employees will do the right thing. This is mutual respect.

David Yeghiaian is committed to inspiring others through faith and leadership. Reach him at

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