How should you behave towards your employees
13 simple steps you can take to gain respect and natural authority as a leader
To be a “manager” demands more than the position of a superior. Good managers do not gain their authority from their hierarchical position, but from their professional and personal skills. It is about the subject of "natural" authority. A good manager is respected by his employees and accepted as a “leader”. But it is precisely with this respect that many - especially young - managers have problems. So how can you gain respect and thereby natural authority in your new or existing leadership position?
How respect and authority are really related
In the course of your life you will meet many authority figures: teachers, professors, doctors, superiors and even your parents have been with you as authority figures from an early age. Most of these people, however, do not have a natural authority. Instead, their authority results from a position of power, i.e. superiority. As a child you are dependent on your parents, as a pupil you have to listen to the teacher and the armed police officer also has an advantage over you, which is why you would not let it come down to a "test of strength". Most executives, too, usually only have authority over their employees because of their position of power.
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Unfortunately, the power structure in this constellation is less effective than, for example, in childhood. After all, employees are adults, responsible and ultimately also independent people. Anyone who is dissatisfied at work can simply quit and leave. And it is precisely this willingness that is currently growing due to the shortage of skilled workers and the trend towards a patchwork career. Employee turnover increases in many companies - authority or not. The Germans are slowly but surely losing their fear of changing jobs and thus employers' control over their employees is being lost.
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So you have to find new ways to gain authority as a leader - apart from your former position of power. This is where respect comes into play. Whoever has authority is not automatically respected. Instead, respect gives you authority, just in a different form. It is the so-called "natural" authority. This describes a
Self-evident, casual and self-confident charisma that causes others to respect and accept a person as a knowledge and decision maker.
So authority does not automatically ensure respect, but vice versa. Therefore, as a manager, you should focus on being respected by your employees. This also automatically accepts your authority and reduces employee turnover. So much for theory. And how do you put it all into practice?
Definition: what does respect actually mean?
Respect is a term that is used almost inflationarily in everyday life. Respect is spoken of or demanded everywhere - but only very few of you will be able to define it off the cuff. According to the Google dictionary, the respect is
the attitude that one considers a person and their professional and social position to be important and shows this clearly in one's behavior.
The Duden suggests the following terms as synonyms for respect:
According to Wikipedia, respect is a special form of attention to a person. And Planet-schule.de even sees respect as a basic human need and thus the basis of a functioning society. In addition, respect is important for the self-confidence and self-image of each individual:
Those who are not respected - perhaps even treated disrespectfully - by their social environment will sooner or later begin to suffer from self-worth.
Respect is therefore important for you as a manager on the one hand on a personal level and on the other hand on the professional level. The same applies to your employees, by the way.
Respect is a matter of reciprocity
Respect is not God given. As a manager, you can win or lose the respect of your employees at any time. First and foremost, this is a matter of reciprocity. If you are disrespectful to those around you, they too will quickly lose respect for you. Conversely, the likelihood that your employees will respect you increases if you treat them with recognition, appreciation and courtesy. Ultimately, everyone involved benefits from respectful cooperation: The working atmosphere improves, individuals gain self-confidence and are permanently more motivated, satisfied and more productive.
Your career, on the other hand, will be short-lived if you treat your employees with disrespect or if they don't respect you. This seriously damages your image, in the worst case the employees even start to ignore your instructions or to sabotage your professional career. Even if the disrespect does not take on such drastic proportions, everyday working life is anything but fun when it becomes a constant battle for authority. So how can you gain the respect of your employees - regardless of whether you are a newcomer or seasoned executive - and thereby generate a natural authority?
13 measures with which you as a manager will gain respect
In order for you to be respected by the employees, you do not have to yell, punish or display other negative behavior. Instead, it is positive qualities that lead to your being respected as a manager - and which should actually be taken for granted. You should pay attention to the following 13 things, then the respect will most likely come by itself:
1. Reciprocity: As mentioned earlier, respect is first and foremost mutual. So if you want to be respected by your employees, treat them with respect as well. Never become abusive, degrading, or unfair. See your employees as people, not machines, and treat them accordingly. Mutuality does not guarantee you respect. But those who treat their employees badly will experience the same - according to the motto:
As one calls into the forest, it resounds.
2. Experience: A natural authority can also result from experience. Many younger workers respect older, more experienced workers, from whom they can still learn a lot. It therefore doesn't hurt if managers sometimes tell their employees anecdotes about their career or in situations mention a similar problem from the past and how you solved them. It is important, however, that you do not come across as boastful or stale. Instead, be humble and let your experience speak for itself. Sometimes gray hair and a correspondingly “mature” look are enough for this.
3. Expertise: Of course, not all executives are blessed with this experience. In your younger years in particular, you may even have to manage employees who are actually more experienced and older than you. The lack of respect quickly becomes a problem. In this case, your expertise can help. You have to be the best on the team in your area of expertise - the one who comes up with relevant questions. Educate yourself regularly and steadily expand your expertise.
4. Humanity: Many leaders see their position as a role. So you play a person you are not really - or cover up certain parts that you rate as unprofessional. Of course, you shouldn't burst into tears in front of your co-workers every two days, and you don't have to make it public that the presentation will scare you as hell. But still stay authentic. Present yourself honestly, honestly and as who you really are - even if someone who knows how to distinguish between private and professional life and who maintains professionalism. A fine line that is worth walking for respect!
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5. Critical ability: To be human also means to be vulnerable. You are not perfect, and neither do you have to be. There is no point in fooling your employees into infallibility. Instead, show yourself willing to learn and open to criticism. Get feedback from your employees and thereby show interest in improving your leadership skills. Apologize if you made a mistake. But also set clear limits that employees must not exceed.
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6. Humor: And there is another point that belongs to humanity - humor. Don't take yourself too seriously. Of course, you are not at work for fun (just) and you certainly feel stressed and under pressure. But there is always time for a hearty laugh with the team. This not only makes you more personable, but also relieves stress and sweetens your day-to-day work. Sympathy is also an important factor for mutual respect.
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7. Affiliation: The more humor you display and the more sympathetic you appear to your employees, the more likely you are to create the impression of belonging. People tend to see leaders as "opponents" and instinctively fight against them. This is a normal part of the human pursuit of autonomy. It can therefore be a more sensible strategy to meet your employees at eye level instead of looking down on them. However, you shouldn't overdo it: Friendship between managers and employees is often problematic. After all, you shouldn't mutate into a prankster or your best buddy, because then you won't be taken seriously anymore. Here, too, it is important to find the right amount.
8. Predictability: As a leader, if you want to earn the respect of your employees, you have to be predictable. So you have to have a clear line and stay true to this leadership style. Communicate your desires and limits. Blame and praise everyone for doing the same thing. If you make a difference here, your behavior appears arbitrary and you come under suspicion of having “favorites” or simply being very moody. Regardless of whether you have a good or bad day: Always stay the "same" person, that is, predictable.
The higher a person stands, the stronger he needs barriers to curb the arbitrariness of his being.
9. Reliability: Being predictable also means being reliable. Always be on time and well prepared. Act as a role model for your employees. Also keep promises. Keep your word.
10. Courtesy: Politeness is also a sign of respect. Even if you don't like an employee, get into a conflict with a customer, or are reprimanded by your supervisor: Remain polite in every situation and set a good example. Say “please” and “thank you” nicely and never be offensive - neither on a professional nor on a personal level. Only if you observe etiquette yourself will you be able to demand courtesy and respect from your employees.
11. Justice: Also, be fair. Treat all employees equally. Maybe you secretly have favorites, that's just human. But outwardly nobody is allowed to know or notice that. The same rules must apply to all employees. Also try to resolve conflicts as fairly as possible. You may need to use a mediator for this. Anyone who feels they have been treated unfairly by you will also lose their respect for you as a leader.
Nothing that lacks justice can be morally right.
(Marcus Tullius Cicero)
12. Self-confidence: Radiate self-confidence. This gives you respect and respect in turn creates more self-confidence - as already mentioned. An upright posture, a strong gait and unshakable composure appeal to the human instincts and increase the chance that you will be accepted as a natural leader. In the past, it wasn't the fearful rabbits who were chosen to be tribal leaders. And it is not without reason that there are more “big” men in upper management than “small” - and more men than women in general. This is also culturally and socially determined, but to a certain extent it is simply down to human instincts.
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13. Fun: Finally, you should just enjoy your role as a leader and not see it as a burden. You must have the will to become a leader, then you are already laying the cornerstone of natural authority. If you don't enjoy your leadership position, you will never be respected in it. Then it is best to find another job. That is also perfectly acceptable. So if you become aware of whether and why the role as a manager suits you, work on the 13 measures listed and focus on your individual strengths: empathy, for example, know-how or motivation.
What other characteristics do you think a good leader should have? Feel free to comment on this post in more depth on the subject of respect and natural authority. Many Thanks!
Photo credit: Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock.com
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