Everyone in your organization has value. Respecting others will gain you respect in turn.
People never forget how a person made them feel. That’s a common saying. What they leave out, is that people also talk amongst themselves.
If you make an entire group of people feel better, more capable, and can motivate their ambitions, word will get out. Fast.
They’ll come to understand you are someone who is naturally valuable to have around. In fact, if you can master being everyone’s person, you’ll gain respect almost instantly.
Think of how a forest fire starts (perhaps a strange example, but bear with me). It starts slowly, and by chance. A tiny flickering fire. As it gains momentum and spreads however, it soon becomes a raging conflagration.
This same “spreading of the flame” principle applies to people. Before you know it, they’ll have discussed you in several circles, and all will have come to an agreement about who you are (and how you made them feel).
An example of true leadership that still hangs with me to this day, was of my old manager. I was no more than 16, yet my manager Mike (not his real name), was an exemplary individual in his field. He was the production manager for an automotive manufacturer.
The way Mike treated people was surreal. Everyone reacted to his mere presence with excitement and wide-eyed happiness. He didn’t even really have to speak (or could say very little) and people would still be so happy to see him inspecting the lines.
By this point in my life, I had already realized that a “boss” was not someone you wanted to be around as an employee. Most of them tend to yell and make demands. Not so with Mike.
I specifically remember one dreary, rainy day, that Mike was making his usual rounds. An old man named George, who was one of our plant’s janitors, had just accidentally tipped over a large garbage bin. No sooner had George made this mistake, than did he look up from the mess to see Mike approaching him swiftly.
I’ll never forget the sudden fear in George’s eyes. He looked terrified. From his mere expression, it was as if he felt certain he was about to be fired.
As George would tell me later, he really did think he was about to lose his job. George had been yelled at so many times for petty things. Minor mistakes that he had made prior, were the cause of fitful yelling and reprimanding from other managers in the facility.
Not so with Mike.
Mike immediately strode up to George, smiled as he righted the fallen over bin, and without missing a beat, he knelt to the ground as he began quickly scooping up the waste that littered the floor.
George took a moment to realize what was happening, still bracing from what he seemed convinced was about to be a terrible lecture. Yet as he softened, he simply nodded at Mike, and began helping him correct the situation.
In moments they had cleaned the floors. Perfectly so, in fact. You would never have even known that there had been garbage and dirt strewn about.
Moments later the two were laughing aloud, engaged as they were in a lively discussion.
In short, a true leader will take care of his people. All of them. No matter how high or low they may rank in any organization.