12 Ways to Earn Respect And Trust As A Leader

Tags: Leadership, Leadership Worth Sharing Blog, Organizational Leadership, Self Help, Situational Leadership

Have you ever heard the mantra that respect is the cornerstone of effective leadership? If you haven’t, then I’m here to tell you it should be indelibly etched into every action you take as a leader. Think about it, do you want to work for, or associate with, people you don’t respect? Exactly, nor does anyone else.

One of the people I love to quote is Warren Buffet, who has famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation but only 5 minutes to lose it.” The same applies to respect. It takes hard work to earn . . . but a mere slip-up to lose.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been let down by someone because they:

…and, unfortunately, the list goes on and on. Bottom-line, to be effective in anything you do, you must have the respect and trust of others.

Here are 12 solid ways that you can begin today to earn, reinforce and retain Respect and Trust.

Proven Ways to EARN Respect and Trust

  1. Model good behavior, especially during your struggles and disruptive times  

It’s easy to appear to have the ‘proper’ behavior when times are good. And not so easy when times are tough. It’s all about Emotional Intelligence (EI) and the ability to manage your emotions even during times of high stress.  Those leaders who can keep up with the ‘right behavior’ even during the tough times truly breed a sense of trust and respect from their followers. For more information on assessing your own EI factor, refer back to one of my older blog posts.

  1. Provide consistent feedback to your people

Have you ever tried to find your way in a pitch black environment? I have and let me tell you, I don’t do so well! The fear of bumping or tripping is overwhelming. As crazy as it may sound, NOT providing feedback to your teams creates that same unsure feeling! The same sense of uncertainty breeds hesitation, uncertainty, and anxiety, all things which are counterproductive to respect and trust.

  1. Consistently Get feedback from your people

I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s one in a thousand leaders who do this. It’s simple human nature that makes . . . GIVING FEEDBACK MUCH EASIER THAN RECEIVING FEEDBACK! Yet imagine the respect you will gain as a leader because you are opening yourself up to your people. Don’t you want to know if what you are doing, how you are leading, is really working/not working for your people? It can be empowering, even freeing for both parties. If you are uncomfortable doing this yourself, recruit your HR business partner to help you out.

  1. Commit to your ‘yes being your yes and your ‘no REALLY being your no!’

Another tough one here. But leaders must be able to be consistent in both their actions and words if they are to invoke trust and respect from their people. Back ‘in the day,’ your word and a handshake was all it took because people more consistently kept their promises. But today’s world is downright chaotic with far more demands on our time . . . which makes it even more important to make a decision and stick to our commitments. If you’re a serial ‘waffler’ or simply need some improvement in this area, here’s a few tips. Be slow to speak, ponder deeply, ask for additional time, if necessary, and then stand firm in your ‘yes or no.’ It may not be the answer someone wants, but they will respect you more if you remain committed to your initial decision.

  1. Proactively support your people in public

I can’t tell you the number of times individual employees have lost the trust and respect of their managers because their managers never supported them openly in a public setting. Either the manager didn’t really mean what he/she said behind closed doors or they were too scared of potential ramifications. Either way, not supporting your people openly is one of the quickest ways to lose the respect and trust of your people. And to lose your people. Gallup regularly reports that 50% of people leave their jobs because of bad bosses. Don’t add to the statistics!

  1. Truly ‘empower’ and don’t ‘constrain’ or micro-manage your people

Micro-managing your people is equivalent to telling them you, yourself don’t trust them! According to Harvard Business Review, no other leader behavior had a bigger effect on employees than feeling a lack of trust. Whether or not you do trust your employees, micro-managing will ALWAYS make them feel a lack of trust. Step back and reassess why you’re not allowing more autonomy. Is it a control issue, on your part, that has nothing to do with the employee? If so, address your own issues and afford your employees the freedom and space to grow, learn and develop.

  1. Hold your people accountable for their commitments

Healthy working relationships are important in any work setting. That means that your people must both like and respect your role as a leader. They like you because you can connect to them, show empathy, can be flexible and are personable. They respect you because you hold them to their commitments and hold them accountable. To be clear being liked and respected are NOT one in the same! There will be times where you may un-intentionally hurt people’s feelings because you are holding them accountable. That’s ok. Mature workers understand it’s ‘business.’

  1. Hold yourself accountable to your commitments

This is very similar to the ‘let your yes be yes and no be no’ concept. If you want your people to be accountable, then you need to do the same. It’s as simple as that. More importantly, this extends beyond a yes/no decision to expectations and commitments that you set with your team. If you promised or committed to something, make sure you do everything within your power to hold firm to your commitments. It’s by completing your commitments that you elevate your team’s trust and respect for you.

  1. No surprises

Nobody wants to be blindsided from ‘left field.’ If you foresee any upcoming change, request, or impact to your team, make sure you are as timely as possible at informing them. Obviously, there will be times you, yourself are constrained or don’t know yourself. In those situations, be transparent as possible.

  1. Allow others to see your vulnerability and imperfection

Nobody’s perfect, regardless of how much experience, power, titles, or degrees you have. An instant way to obliterate your people’s trust and respect for you is to come off as a ‘know it all, never make a mistake, invincible type of leader.’ Allow your team to know where you are a ‘rock star’ and where you are depending on them! It’s empowering all the way around!

  1. Be truthful and transparent

Ever been on the phone or face to face, when you sense that something’s wrong and ask, ‘What’s wrong?’ to which you receive, ‘Nothing, I’m fine.’

We are all blessed with a sixth sense to just know when people are ‘covering’ up or not. Being truthful and transparent doesn’t mean sharing everything and anything. It means being genuine, sincere, and frank when you need to be.

Half-truths, ‘sugar coating’ or even exaggerating situations can sometimes lead to false assumptions and expectations. Be clear and truthful in all of your communication and you will be the leader that your team can depend on for ‘proper’ perspective and council.

  1. Don’t have ALL the answers

‘I don’t know’ can be very empowering as a leader. You saying ‘I don’t know’ allows others to do the same. It’s ok, even preferable, to sometimes collaborate on the best direction. It creates inclusion and collaboration. All elements essential to employee satisfaction and team productivity.

Warmest regards,


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