Authentic Leaders Don’t Expect to be Respected

Yes, you read that title correctly. I’ve never met an authentic leader who expected respect. Every authentic leader I’ve ever met knew from the start that any respect they received would have to be earned. 

There is no such thing as unearned respect. Your position or title doesn’t earn you respect; people may respect your position or title and they may respect the office you occupy but that doesn’t mean they respect you. 

That kind of personal respect must be earned and re-earned frequently. 

If you want respect then be respectful. Authentic leaders know that the best, and fastest, way to earn respect is to be respectful of others. When you talk down to people, when you put your needs before theirs, and when you “fudge” on the integrity issue you lose respect.

You can be powerful, you can be brilliant, and you can have the appearance of success, and you still won’t have the respect of those around you. 

Authentic leaders are humble leaders. The world renown Pastor at our church recently retired after over 30 years in the pulpit. He was replaced by a 30 something Pastor with no prior experience leading any size church much less a large congregation like ours. That’s pretty heady stuff, most of the members of his staff are considerably more experienced than him, yet he is the guy. Today I heard him introduce himself as one of the Pastors here at Bethlehem. 

He could have rightfully said Lead Pastor or Head Pastor but instead he said one of the Pastors. That’s humble! That earns respect. Sadly, that type of humble leadership is all too rare these days.

I’m going to doing something now that I wouldn’t normally do and something I don’t recommend, I’m going to make a very general broad statement. Here it is: if you’re constantly bragging about your power or your position or your brilliance I’d be willing to bet your people don’t have a lot of respect for you.

It’s like this; authentic leaders don’t need to boss because they lead. They don’t need to command respect because their people willingly give it. To be more precise, they don’t need to command respect because their people give it back. 

If you want to be respected then show some respect, and remember, you’re the leader, you go first! 

6 thoughts on “Authentic Leaders Don’t Expect to be Respected

  1. In Jim Collins book “Good to Great,” he talks about the attribute of humility held by Level 5 leaders. Those leaders running the most successful companies.

    More times than not, when I share this discovery with leaders, they refuse to believe it t or change the subject. They associate humbleness and vulnerability with being weak.

    If they only tried it, their perspective would change.

    1. Here’s a fact: only the strong and self-confident have the courage to be humble.

      Too many leaders believe leading is about image, it’s not, it’s about being real.

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