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Respect First, Like Second

[ 0 ] September 23, 2013 |

“You like me! You really like me!,” Sally Field said in 1980 when she won her academy award. It’s famous, because it touched every viewer deeply. That’s what we want, isn’t it? To be liked? But Sally knows that being liked only gets you so far. You have to show focus, fortitude, and tremendous talent to succeed.

The way to get an Academy Award for Management is to follow Sally’s path.

Focus on respect over like. A respectful manager breeds respect among her team. She models how she wants to be treated and creates a ripple effect. Each person’s success is her responsibility, so she manages each individual, showing respect for his or her ideas and challenges. The result is a department of people who respect each other’s gifts and allow each other to shine, even if they don’t necessarily like each other. The funny thing, chances are high that when you respect someone, you may end up liking them. But it doesn’t always work the other way around.

Make a list of the colleagues whose work you respect. What is it you respect about them? Their work product, the way they balance holding you accountable with kindness, their mastery of C-Suite egos? These are the people you want in your corner. They don’t take things personally; they get the job done in a kind and respectful way and let you shine in the process. They help you UP.

Now make a list of the colleagues you like. They’re fun to meet for drinks, share gossip, or gripe about the workload. Do you truly know where you stand with them or is it a contextual friendship? Do they help you shine or do they hold you DOWN?

Having your team like you isn’t a bad thing, but a true leader knows that Like must come after Respect.

A person is put in a position of management, because they’ve likely shown they can lead and pull together a team to get behind a vision and deliver it. That’s hard work, and not everyone can do it.

The leader who has the strength to bear adversity with courage is a role model for the team. She listens to team members’ complaints and requests solutions in response. She empowers those who have thoughtful ideas and coaches those who don’t. She holds herself and her team accountable for how they spend their time and energy and the quality of work they do. Some associates call her demanding (or worse); most call her straightforward. You know where you stand with an Academy Award Manager. There are no games, and that’s often received as a relief.

A true leader knows that delivering a vision can’t happen when the focus is on liking each other. There must be mutual respect for each other’s talents so the team can work as one to deliver the vision.

There’s no “I” in team or in respect. (I can’t believe I just wrote that hokey sentence.)

Recognizing someone’s talent and giving him every tool possible to help him shine takes talent. (And focus and fortitude.)

Talent is a subtle gift that can blossom under the right light. Recognize it. Acknowledge it. Nurture it. Don’t pick favorites, treat each individual as a vessel of talent, and help them find their talents.

This is your talent as a manager. Some people think they need to be doing the work as a manager, but that can stifle a team. Imagine yourself as a gardener. Spot the untapped talent, water it, and it shall grow—and make you look like a rock star in the process.

Talent comes in endless varieties, so it’s fun to be in the position of Talent Finder. His design is superb, her excel spreadsheets make life easier, and the way he routes a project for sign-off is masterful. There is no end to what you may uncover and it’s fun to figure out how to guide these talents to help the department grow. That’s why you’re the manager, after all.

I like you and hope you like me. But I really hope you respect what I’ve written.

For information about how Cella can add value to your business through consulting, coaching, and training, please email This article was written by Cella Consultant Rena DeLevie.

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Category: InSights

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