Respect - The Most Important Leadership Quality

“Civility pays. It enhances your influence and performance — and is positively associated with being perceived as a leader.”
Christine Porath

You have likely heard of “The Golden Rule.” This ethic of reciprocity – “treat others as you would like to be treated” – is widely known, so it may seem obvious that acting respectfully toward others would emerge as a way to enhance your influence and performance as a leader. But recent research by Christine Porath, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, reveals that while civility does pay for the leader, it also appreciably benefits those who work with the leader.

Being treated with respect was found to be more important to employees than any other leadership behavior, including providing recognition for achievements or opportunities for professional development.

Porath’s article provides a number of creative, yet concrete suggestions for leaders to improve their ability to engage civilly and treat others respectfully, including:

  • Asking for candid feedback on both good behaviors and shortcomings
  • Asking team members for help being held accountable, and
  • Using a coach.

She proposes a specific and straightforward “feedforward” method one can adopt to help implement behavioral goals in professional settings, or how to conduct a personal “energy audit”. Each of these techniques represents a way to build one’s self-awareness and start adjusting behavior to improve both your influence and effectiveness.

Taking on just a few small changes to create an environment where people can thrive can lead to large benefits for both you and your organization.

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