Respect Through Trust

Posted on May 1, 2010


Team Leadership, photo from

As leaders and managers, among the best means to demonstrate respect for our team members is simply to show trust in them. This way of demonstrating respect works at the level of respecting the capabilities of one, and is hence a very powerful leadership lesson we can learn to employ to demonstrate respect in our workplace.

Let us take for example, Francis, who works in a human resource team. Adam, her manager, assigned her to see to the planning of the reception for the company’s Family Day outing to the beach. This was not an easy task for Francis, as it involved sorting out the sending of invitation, car parking, traffic marshalling, and tending of the reception booth. Many of her colleagues raised doubts about her ability to manage the daunting task. Francis herself felt dubious of her ability to handle what was to her a massive challenge. However, when Adam was asked on his take on the matter, he made an outright assertion that he had faith that Francis would do a good job with the reception planning. Instantly, she felt a sense of warmth and confidence flow through her, as she rapidly began to see possibilities, touched by the respect her superior had on her skills.

This is why demonstrating trust is so important. Through displaying that as a leader, one respects and has confidence of the skills of the team member, he is immediately able to elicit a strong sense of self worth and respect in the team member, which is based on the respect that he places on the team member. This is an essential tool for a transformational leader.

Early in my leadership journey, I ever fell into the trap of becoming too objective-minded that I forget to respect the abilities of my team. As a junior manager, I tasked Jimmy, a team member, to source out a good supplier for stationery we can rely on to produce a company pen. However, as I knew Jimmy to be slipshod in his work, I did not trust him to get the work done well. Instead, I concurrently got another team member, Peter, to look out for good suppliers for stationery too. You could imagine that as Jimmy, this would be a horrible feeling, that his superior did not have respect his abilities. Not only did it communicate a lack of respect for his abilities, it also made him feel bad about himself, that he wasn’t good enough. While I ended up with a more comprehensive research on the best stationery available to choose from, I damaged the team dynamics and work culture of my team. Looking back, it was certainly a foolish decision, and I was glad to have learnt this crucial leadership lesson.

Whatever you may believe, make it a point to demonstrate your trust in your team members. Tell them what you think. Tell others how much you trust your team. You would be surprised at how good they will feel with the respect that they have been given, and how much their performance will grow.

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