Some leaders are good, but not truly memorable. The leaders that tend to stand out and leave a lasting impression on those who have had the pleasure to work with them command respect — the kind of respect that has been earned rather than forced upon others.
“A respected leader is a leader that people trust and admire typically because they have integrity, they care about their people and they get great things done on a consistent basis,” says Epiphany Coaches founder Cheryl Breukelman, who has personally coached over 1,000 leaders and teams to date.
If you’re trying to become a better leader, learning from the habits of the most respected leaders can help you develop your skills further — sometimes much more than picking up a book on leadership. Why? It’s not about emulating these people in a mechanical way or forcing a blueprint onto your professional pursuits, but understanding the principles the best leaders uphold and how it drives their actions. If you understand the common denominators in the things they value, you will be able to adapt to any situation and gain the respect of your team while being true to your personality and shaping your unique leadership style in the process.
Ready to learn what it takes to be a respected leader? Here are four things these highly impressive professionals do on a regular basis.
They prioritize relationship skills
Yes, respected leaders show results. But they also know results come through teamwork and collaboration. And they tend to truly care about others. So if you already have a genuine interest in people as well as great empathy and communication skills, you’re off to a very good start. Add a dedication to delivering great business outcomes and you’ve got a powerful combo.
“The most respected leaders typically have both excellent relationship skills and the ability to generate results. They are more collaborative, building trust and strong connections through their caring, communication and openness and have the ability to get big things done with their people as a result,” says Breukelman.
They stay consistent and follow-through
Inconsistency is the enemy of building a stellar reputation. Do you know how they say you should lead by example? One moment of inconsistency can stay in the memory of your peers for a long time and give off the impression that you expect more of others than you are willing to do yourself. On the other hand, if you always follow through on your commitments and maintain your high standards without ever faltering — even in more difficult moments — people will naturally come to admire you.
“[The most respected leaders] live and work consistently by standards and principles that guide them to do the right thing that people can depend on and admire,” says Breukelman.
They take integrity very seriously
“Respected leaders are courageous and consistent. They stand by their principles, their standards and their people. They do not compromise the fundamentals for personal gain or short-term opportunities.”
If you want to build respect as a leader, ask yourself what you value the most. For example, do you think honesty and transparency are absolutely critical to having a strong team? Perhaps you believe that prioritizing customers and maintaining excellent service if extremely important in your line of business. Whatever the case may be, use these values as your compass and regularly check in with yourself to see if you are being true to these guiding principles in your actions and decisions.
They value the greater good of the group
People have a radar for selfishness and inauthenticity. The most respected leaders in the world always prioritize the best interest of the collective before the advancement of their own careers and agendas. It’s a win-win — professional opportunities tend to follow those who are committed to having their team’s back.
“Being self-interested will damage your reputation over time. People always know. You feel it. People do not enjoy or do their best work for a self-interested leader because they know that the leader has only their personal agenda in mind. Then, the work experience, the loyalty of the team and the results suffer and when you need people to go the extra mile, they aren’t willing to do it,” says Breukelman.