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SERVE: Show Respect (first of a five part series)

I believe that a key component of a successful leader is serving. Regardless who you are serving (an external or an internal customer) the definition and the actions are the same. Don Flow, CEO of Flow Companies, summed up five ingredients that do a nice job of saying what “serving” means.

Show respect
Earn trust
Reach for perfection
Value input
Energize others

Over the upcoming weeks, I want to share my thoughts on “how” you can put these into practical application in your day-to-day job.

This week we’ll start with: Show Respect

Part of serving others is recognizing that each person has worth. Webster talks about respect as a feeling that something has value, has importance, is good. We all want to feel respected – feel that we have worth, have value, are good. But we are talking about serving others, not feeling good ourselves. It isn’t about how YOU feel, it is about how you make OTHERS feel. People are unique and each has their triggers for feeling respected. What makes you feel respected does not make everyone else feel respected. You may very well believe that your customer has value, are important, are good. That is not the point. It is all about “showing” it in a way that they feel it.

So how do we show respect to others? If everyone is different, can you ever succeed in meeting everyone’s requirement to feel respected? Of course not, but there are a few simple things that will help you make most people feel respected.

1. Know your customer.
Do you know the person well enough to understand what makes them feel valued? Is it words? Is it actions? Is it listening? When in doubt, try all three. Just doing one and hoping for the best is like handing someone a book in the dark. You gave them the book, but they can not see to read the book. You think you showed respect, but they can’t feel it.

2. Follow-up.
Regardless of the person, not following-up, not keeping your promises, are indicators that you don’t care about them. That is universal and is a sure bet — something that you can do for everyone. Even if you do not have the answer your customer is waiting for yet, a quick email to let them know they are not forgotten goes a long way.

3. Words matter.
You may have heard that you act like you dress. Put someone in a suit and they walk and sit different than when wearing jeans and sneakers. I contend the same goes for our words. If you talk about people in the positive, you will act positively toward them. How you talk about people when they aren’t around is a mirror that reflects your level of respect when they are around.

4. Be fair.
If you weigh the options, are fair in your judgement, and communicate the rationale to those involved – you are showing respect. They might not agree with your decision, but will know that you valued them by including them in the assessment/decision.

5. Agree to disagree.
Showing respect does not mean you always give in or always win. It means you discuss and respect differences in opinion. In business, there can be multiple “right” opinions. What greater level of respect is there than acknowledging a difference in opinion?

6. Manners.
Seems simple enough. Manners exist in all cultures to “level the behaviors” such that everyone feels valued. We know what to expect, and what to do. Things like “please and thank you” are simple words that show respect. When in doubt, dust off your manners and use civility to communicate respect.

Let me know how you are “showing respect” for your internal and external customers. I’d love to hear how you are putting the words into action.

kind regards,