What if being a transformational leader is as simple as showing respect?

In her Harvard Business Review article “Half of Employees Don’t Feel Respected by Their Bosses”, Christine Porath tells us that showing respect is the leader behavior most valued by employees.

She cites statistics from a worldwide study of 20,000 employees. Those who say that leaders give them respect have compelling statistics about their work experience:

  • 55% more engaged
  • 56% better health and well-being
  • 1.72 times more trust and safety
  • 89% more enjoyment and satisfaction
  • 92% greater focus and prioritization
  • 1.72 times more meaning and significance
  • 1.1 times more likely to remain in the company

What happens when leaders do not show respect?

Companies and organizations where respect is lacking include higher turnover, lower productivity, more healthcare costs, and less focus. Since these are not desired outcomes, why do they persist? Porath states that 54% of employees said that they regularly do not have respect from leaders.

Porath says that she has studied this area for 18 years and has found that the common reason is a lack of awareness of the impact. Another way to say this would be that leaders have a blind spot regarding the impact and importance of showing respect. Additionally, leaders set the tone and example for what leadership behavior looks like. This includes when the behavior is ineffective or damaging.

Transformational Leadership Tip

An outstanding example of what a leader can do to transform this situation and be a role model for future leaders is Doug Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup Company. When he took on the position in 2001, Campbell’s had some of the worst performance in multiple measures. He transformed the company’s performance and acknowledges one way was to send individual thank you notes to employees daily. He sent 30,000 thank you notes to 20,000 employees. When he retired as CEO, the company’s performance measures had increased in unpredictable levels.

Making a decision to be a transformation leader

Every leader I speak to is looking for ways to improve performance, both of their organizations and their people. The evidence seems inescapable that finding ways to show respect will reap tremendous dividends in a number of areas.

Whether you copy Conant or invent your own practice, the important point is that leaders become aware of their behavior’s impact and make changes that show respect.

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