During one of the sessions in the leadership development program at my company, KMS, I got an interesting question from a staff in the group. The question was “aHung, I observed that you have the tendency to be close to staff, don’t you be afraid that one day, once it’s too close, people would lose the respect of you?”
Wow, that was one of the best questions I got, once doing training or so. What would you say?
If I get this question about 8-10 years ago, I wouldn’t be able to handle it well. While I believe that being close to co-workers is the great thing I should do (no matter what position I am holding), I do see there is an “unknown” worry of doing that, especially once I am the top guy of a 500 people organization. Plus the fact that we are in Vietnam with Asian culture which promote gap between manager and subordinates. What if the relationship becomes too sticky, does it harm? Does it become the situation like described in the question and I am losing the respect from my co-workers?
At that moment, I realized that paying “respect” doesn’t lie at the closeness of the relationship whatsoever. That intimacy is what needed to build a great relationship and it should not relate to “respect”. On that day, I replied to my colleague: “People respect me because of what I can do for them, of what I can support them, of the value I would add, not because of my position. And I would lose respect from co-workers once I don’t fulfil my job of contributing, supporting, and adding value.” And of cause, you don’t see intimacy as a factor for me to lose respect from others.
And that is actually the best principle for developing your leadership. Leadership doesn’t come from your position. It comes from what you can do for people around you. Position certainly can’t bring you that power. And if you can be that great help, great support, and great value to people around you, they’ll love you. They’ll respect you. And absolutely, they’ll consider you as their leader, I am sure.
So, if you really want to be respected by others, the key is giving, contributing, supporting, helping, adding value. And in order for you to do that well, never stop learning and advancing yourself everyday. Pick a great book and read, then change. Meet great people to get inspiration. Do something to help people around you, start with your loved ones, then friends, and then your community.
Image source: http://www.ahumanproject.com