7 Ways to be a Respected Boss

Throughout my career there is one thing that makes me the most proud. It is when a person on my team tells my wife how much I am respected as a boss.

Driving home from picnics, Christmas parties or other events, my wife often takes the time to tell me about what my team members say. She also makes sure she tells me how proud she is of me when people say they respect me and enjoy working with me.

Quite honestly, I take that news humbly.

My view is that I just try to be a good boss. I don’t try to win a popularity contest nor do I need my staff to like me. I just want the team to come to work ready to do great things and have a little fun along the way. In the end, if I am respected by my team, then it is all good.

My wife and I have raised our daughters that to make a friend, you have to be friend.

The same thing applies to your team. To be a respected boss, you must first show respect.

Members of a team want to respect the person in charge. People look to follow a leader that communicates well, makes them feel important and gives them a reason to do well when they come to work.

Peter Drucker, the godfather of all things management, once said, “People work for managers; they follow leaders.”

Once you are respected as a boss, you are well on your way to becoming a leader. And Drucker also stated that leaders get paid more than managers!

The good news is that you can be a boss people respect with doing little more than what should come natural to you if you wish for your team to succeed.

7 ways to be a respected boss:

1. Set expectations and check back frequently – Explain carefully what you expect from each member of your team. Use the “Tell, Show, Do” method. Tell them what you want. Show them how to do it. Have them do it while you observe and offer feedback. It is then imperative that you check back often to see how things are going, answer questions and make adjustments. The way to screw this up: Check back and only look for things the employee is doing wrong and then hammer them.

2. Be a coach – Coaching takes place when a person sees natural talent in another person and works on a program to improve that talent. When it comes to the members of your team, figure out the required talents and assign the work accordingly. Be willing to make changes along the way. Coaches need to have a keen eye and be able to spot emerging talents. Your team will grow when they develop in their strengths with the occasional opportunity to try new things. The way to screw this up: Constantly tell your team members what they can’t do and walk away.

3. Respect people for who they are – Individuals come in many sizes, shapes and representations. Some of my best employees over the years might scare the crap out of you in a dark alley. The old adage holds true. You cannot judge a book by its cover. As long as a person does a job well, gets along well with their fellow teammates and doesn’t break the work rules, I respect them for who they are. The way to screw this up: Judge people by how they look and not the work they do.

4. Help your team grow in their careers – I have lost track of how many employees left my feathered nest. Did I want them to leave? No, but they had to grow and move on. I have always encouraged people to grow and, if they feel that growth needs to take them someplace else, so be it. I am still in touch with many of these folks and enjoy watching their career growth. The way to screw this up: Keep people down by telling them they are stuck where they are.

5. Be human – Why is it when some people are put in charge, they lose their human touch? Abraham Lincoln said, “”Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Beyond that quote having the male reference, it remains true today. Being a boss means you are in charge of the direction of a group of people. It doesn’t mean you stop being one of them when you are given authority and power. The way to screw this up: Have an attitude that you are the boss and you are the almighty.

6. Have a sense of humor – Humor, or having fun, is essential to releasing the pressure. You might not have a great sense of humor, but members of your team might. Learn to balance a little fun into every day regardless of how serious an environment you work in. According to a WebMD report, research shows laughter can improve your health: It helps reduce stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenalin, and pumps up immune system activity by increasing interferon, T cells and white blood cells. A hearty guffaw or belly laugh can also boost heart rate, improves blood flow, and stabilizes blood pressure. Sounds like an inexpensive way to motivate your team and keep them healthy. The way to screw this up: Abolish anything that resembles fun and laughter.

7. Care – When your team needs you, be there for them. If a member of your team is having an issue outside of work, be aware and check in regularly with genuine care for the person. Help where you can but understand the boundaries. Some people come to work to escape personal issues. Respect that while letting your team know you support them. The way to screw this up: Sure, there is not caring at all. Then there is something almost as damaging: It is being a manipulative phony and acting like you really give a crap when you don’t.

Julius Erving said, “I firmly believe that respect is a lot more important, and a lot greater, than popularity.” I could not agree more.

You will be more successful in your career as a boss, as a leader, if you work harder at being respected than you do at being liked.


Think of a boss or leader you respect. Why do you respect that person? Share you answer below.


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