How to Show Respect to Subordinates

By | March 12, 2018

[March 12, 2018]  We’re all guilty of failing to show respect to our subordinates at one time or another.  Whether unknowingly or worse, purposefully, we have not shown the respect due others; that which is required of us as leaders.  Yet whether a subordinate deserves respect is irrelevant; showing it at all times is an unwritten requirement of professional leadership.

A professional can show respect and even under the worst cases imaginable, discipline a subordinate, and still show them a minimal level of respect that they are due simply because they work for you.  This may seem contradictory.

Why, you ask, should a bad employee be given respect?  The reason is that others will be observing how a leader acts under a wide variety of situations.  When a leader respects another person, it is seen as a positive attribute of the leader.  When a leader disrespects another person, regardless of circumstances, it is seen as a negative attribute of the leader.

A leader must also show a certain level of respect to subordinates even when that subordinate fails to respect the leader.  The reason why a leader shows respects to others never changes.  For example, how a one treats people of the lowest rank, those with the most unimportant jobs, and those who are performing poorly is about the character of the leader and not about the other person.

If a leader is looking to improve relationships with subordinates they should carefully review and study these ways to show respect:

  1. Be inspirational: John C. Maxwell once said that a word of encouragement from a teacher to a child can change a life.
  2. Listen: It takes considerable self-confidence and courage to truly listen to others.
  3. Reward: Do this in many ways; mostly small, simple ways of encouraging good behavior.
  4. Be thankful: A simple thank-you or small pat on the back give motivation that is immeasurable.
  5. Be helpful: There are many ways to do this without interfering but often the very knowledge that you are willing to help is a good thing.
  6. Remember the small things:
  7. Build trust: Ultimately relationships are about trust. Building trust enables us to respect others.

A leader’s time and resources are always in high demand.  As such they should always make the effort to spend time with subordinates to interact with them, understand their problems, and be seen as someone who cares and is willing to act.  This is what respect is all about.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

7 thoughts on “How to Show Respect to Subordinates

  1. Joey Holmes

    Politician Arthur Caldwell said that “It is better to defeated on principle than to win on lies.” Liars can never get respect and they can never deserve it. Cheers!

  2. Jonathan B.

    As I have mentioned before in my comments here and as I advise my students, having respect for others is actually easy. Showing it is another thing so be prepared to “show” respect as well as having it.

  3. Paula M. Shelling

    I have similar experiences with department stores and other chain establishments. But I don’t put up with it. Politely I remind them that I am a customer and if they want my money then they should step up and provide good customer service. Sometimes it works, often it works and I get an apology. Other times, it doesn’t work and I just walk out and politely educating them on the basics of good service.

  4. Georgie M.

    TIme and again I expect good customer service like anyone but when I go to the malls or to large department stores, I not only get poor service but am also disrespected. Maybe because i’m a little heavy or maybe because i’m Irish but it matters not. Respect is lacking in the sales people and their teenage managers.

  5. Doug Satterfield

    I forgot to mention that in most of America we are “less” likely to show respect to others than anytime since the founding of the country.

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