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People follow people they trust. They trust people they respect.

As a leader, one of your most valuable and needed assets is the respect of the people you are trying to lead. If a leader is respected, people will follow him or her almost anywhere.   If a leader looses respect it becomes very difficult to regain respect.

Often a new leader is given respect because of his or her position as a leader, but respect can be quickly lost due to performance. Many times it’s the seemingly small things which cause the most damage to a leader’s reputation and damages respect.

I have found with a few simple (some not so simple) acts help protect the respect a leader enjoys.

Here are 7 ways to maintain respect as a leader:

Be responsive. Return phone calls and emails promptly. Be accessible to real people. You may not always be available, but you can create systems where people are genuinely valued and heard.

Be consistent. Do what you say you will do. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Don’t tell people what they want to hear, but speak grace and truth in all circumstances. Let people learn to trust you are a person of your word and can be depended upon based on what you say.

Have high character. Act with integrity. Be honest. Protect your moral credibility. Be transparent and open to challenge. Allow a few people to know the real you and speak into the dark places of your life.

Be fair to everyone. Don’t be too harsh. Don’t be too soft. Treat everyone with respect. Genuinely love people. (People know when you do or don’t.)

Keep growing. Learn continually and encourage growth in yourself and others. Ask questions. Be teachable. Read. Observe. Glean from others and experience.

Have good work ethic. I personally think leaders should work as hard or harder than others on their team. But, having a good work ethic doesn’t mean over-working either. It’s working smart and setting a good example for others to follow.

Be courageous. Make hard decisions. Don’t shy away from conflict. Know who you are in Christ and live boldly the calling God places on your life. Live with the aim to finish well — in spite of the obstacles you encounter.

Maintaining respect is a matter of acting in a respectable way. How are you doing? You may want to ask the ones you are supposed to be leading.

What would you add to my list?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 24 Comments

  • Dave Blum says:

    My five favorite guidelines for building trust are: 1) Be truthful 2) Demonstrate vulnerability 3) Be empathetic 4) Avoid gossip 5) Be trustworthy (do what you say you're going to do). I think your article pretty much summed that up.

  • Roger Matthews says:

    I believe that your point on character can be expanded. I would include:
    • humility – entrusting myself to God and others – including The Word
    • integrity – consistency inside and outside – so that others can trust us as we influence – our integrity is not for our own benefit, rather so that God can use us in others' lives
    • vulnerability – beyond transparency to where others can speak to what they see and I listen

  • Francis Wardega says:

    1. Be a person of prayer. 2. Be a person of integrity. 3. Be a servant as Jesus was a servant. 4. Be a leader as Jesus was a leader. 5. Be a person of study in the area you serve God in: professionalism.

  • Tim says:

    I realize that the point is to list characteristics of good leaders, generally. And, since I'm assuming this post is directed at Christians, the only point I see you're missing is… Stand firmly on Scripture. Know it, quote it, and live by it; especially in ministry, but even in the world. Every great leader was a great follower of something or someone. If you want people to trust and follow you, they need to know who you trust and follow. Who is leading their leader?

  • Adam says:

    This list describes the opposite of the senior leader I was under for 18 months: indecisive (sits silently in meetings & lets others make decisions), not respectable (talked about a woman who wasn’t his wife he thought was attractive), bad work ethic (watched 8-10 soccer games a week in his office while running a MLS syndicate blog), and totally ungracious to me and my family.

    • ronedmondson says:

      I'm sorry. Hope you learned valuable lessons though. 

      • Adam says:

        I did. Learned about what to look for in accepting a position and learned some signs on when to get out of one. God’s been kind in the aftermath.

  • Craig Hicks says:

    Being in the south you quickly learn that just a few extra moments w/ someone or enjoy a cup of coffee w/ them means the world to them. Especially the older ones. I would also have to agree w/ @williebemacin on working too hard. Don't preach family to them while blocking yours out all for the name of Jesus. Great comments so far!

  • Good list, Ron. But what if the person walking extra hard is working way too hard. I heartily approve of hard work, but some people are working themselves to death. If I were the leader of a church and a pastor on my team were working like crazily hard, harder than is healthy…I am not going to match his intensity. As much as people respect hard work, they also respect people who keep work balanced with other priorities. We are obsessed with work (especially some of us perfectionists types) but it can easily become a hindrance rather than an asset. I think though from reading your posts and your love for family, that you agree with this though, but I could be wrong.

  • Lin Pearson says:

    My respect for someone always goes up when they admit mistakes and sincerely apologize if necessary. It takes a big man or woman to do that.

  • Lloyd Sexton says:

    number one should be: Truly listen to the concerns of those you lead.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Lloyd…that's a good one and I totally agree. Your "number one" though made me think of a question. I wonder if each of our "number one" answers would be the things which are most important to us? Just wondering…

  • I would like to add the following to your list —

    •Do your job with consistent excellence
    •Do more than expected
    •Offer creative ideas for improvement
    •Deal shrewdly with difficult people
    •Develop accountability for results
    •Become a change agent
    •Be a model for others to follow
    •Solve the problems in a mature and assertive way
    •Has a never-say-die attitude
    •Exercises great self control and discipline