How to Be a Leader That Everyone Respects, Not Fears

From running a local startup to heading an international enterprise, leadership is key to success. Without a strong leader your business will falter and, more likely than not, fall by the wayside. All of the greatest company heads share many traits with one another. Drive, dedication and vision are all essential elements to being a great leader. However, as the company grows and more employees come on, you need to demonstrate another quality: respect. Some bosses run a business through the respect of their employees. Other bosses run a company through fear. To receive the best effort from your own employees, you need to understand how to become a leader they respect and not fear.

Self Confidence

Do you want people to follow you, look to you and respect you? The best way to get the ball rolling here is by demonstrating your own self-confidence. Nobody wants to work for someone who continually questions their own decisions. If you openly question the decisions you make, your employees will do the same. People follow by example, and as you are the head of the company, they will follow suit. So if you display a lack of self-confidence in yourself, your employees will do the same.


Some people are quick tempered while others can seemingly take any bit of news with a grain of salt and never show any sign of anger. Whatever kind of person you are, there will be times your employees make mistakes or take longer to learn a task than desired. No matter how frustrating or stressful the situation is, you need to maintain patience. Blowing up on a worker, yelling at them or publicly reprimanding them is a quick way to lead through fear instead of respect. Once you cross that path, coming back is especially difficult.

Of course, running a business is stressful, which can already cut your level of patience down to a thread. What can you do if you’re not someone naturally gifted with the virtue of patience? Reducing your stress level works wonders. Now, you likely can’t change what’s stressing you out at work. Instead, strive to fit in an early morning workout and eat a nutritious breakfast. These both help increase energy levels and burn off built up stress. You’ll find you feel better at work, which helps you cope with the daily grind of work.

Praise and Reward Your Workers

Do you remember growing up, doing something well and having a parent, teacher, coach or someone else you looked up to tell you what a good job you did? Perhaps they even gave you a special reward for completing a task. At some point in time however, that seems to stop. You’re simply expected to do what you’re told by an authoritative figure without question. The thing is, even though the continual praise and rewarding of a good job stops (usually once you obtain your first real job), the desire for being praised and to be rewarded never ends. Due to this, one of the very best ways to earn the respect of your employees and to bring out the best in them is to tell each individual how proud you are when they do an excellent job. Remind them how you appreciate what they do, and offer a reward when they exceed expectations or reach a desired mark.

Many of the most successful businesses provide rewards for reaching established goals. This helps motivate your employees, it keeps them happy and they will also respect you as a boss and leader, because you’re taking the initiative to treat them with respect as well.

Keep Your Workers Informed

Employees do not like to be left out of the loop. While there are times you need to keep information under wraps, especially if nothing is set in stone, there are times where keeping employees informed is necessary. Even if keeping them informed doesn’t change anything or help the situation out at all, your employees will respect you more when you are open and honest with them. Withholding important information (such as you are merging the company, you have to lay off workers or other news that will affect your employees) can alienate you from your staff and hinder your ability to garnish respect.

Remain Professional

Employees may find it difficult to respect a boss who is not professional. Remaining professional while you’re around workers not only helps develop respect, it helps avoid potential issues down the line. The problem many bosses, especially those just starting out, have is they want to be friends with their employees. Friendships develop at the office. However, if a boss develops friendships with some employees and not others, it may come across as preferential treatment. After all, not everyone is compatible in a friendly relationship. Instead, as a boss and leader you need to separate yourself from developing this kind of attachment and instead maintain professional relationships.

Remaining professional around employees helps with other situations. From time to time you may hold parties, whether it is for the holidays or a retirement at work. You need to remain professional during these parties and other activities to keep your respected head of the company. Keep your private life private and your professional life professional. As long as you follow this rule you’ll not only develop respect within the company but also avoid both inner-office and legal problems down the road.

Cut the Gossip

Employee gossip happens. While you’d like to keep it at a minimum, employees will develop their own connections and form friendships with one another. Eventually, this may cause gossip to rise within the team. For starters, you need to make sure employees know you will not tolerate hearing workers talk badly or spread rumors about other employees. Instead, make sure those who work for you know they can come to you and talk to you in a time of crisis or if there is a situation at home. This way, instead of office gossip developing, which can bend and twist the truth, you are there for your employees. Just make sure to not partake in any gossip. People come and talk to you in private. They expect you to keep the conversation in private. Being there with your office door open helps develop respect. But should you turn and share confidential information with others, it will backfire and your employees will be less likely to respect you for it.

Show Employees Respect

In order to earn respect you need to give it. There will be employees you might not always see eye to eye with. There are going to be others you do not agree with when it comes to their personal lives, political views or other stances. However, if they come in, put in a quality day’s work and do what you ask, you need to show them respect. Respecting someone doesn’t mean you need to be best friends or that you like them.

Now, if you don’t respect an employee, you need to think about why. If you are unable to respect someone professionally who works for you, it might be time to consider why they are working for you. Look past their personal lives and what they do outside of work. If you don’t respect them because of what they do inside the office it means they are putting in less than stellar work, or they are causing problems with other employees. Allowing them to remain on staff may actually cause you respect problems from the other employees, who are forced to deal with this individual throughout the day. When this is the case, it likely is time to let the person go. Only employ people that you respect on a professional level.

For some, leadership is a natural quality. There is a level of charisma others find affectionate and helps push them to greater levels, simply because they are inspired by the leader. For most people, however, leadership is not a 100% natural skill. It needs to be developed, molded and adjusted over time. As the head of a business, it is your duty to not only continually improve the products and services you offer, but yourself as a leader as well. By leading through respect instead of fear, employees are less likely to second-guess decisions and adhere to your requests and requirements. So pay attention to these steps and exercise each whenever possible. The more you work on yourself, the more respect you’ll eventually gain. This goes a long way in cementing the structure of your company for the present and the foreseeable future.

Written by Mike Williams

I am a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business experience. My goal with this blog is to pass on some of what I have learned in order to help you achieve success in business.

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