Respect by Being True to Our Words

Posted on May 7, 2010


Team Leadership, photo from

An essential aspect of maintaining respect in the workplace is by being true to our words. Many a times, we may find ourselves over-promising, and this naturally leads to us under-delivering. Naturally, this would cause disappointment in the team members whom we have made the promise to, as they were primed to expect highly but reality fell short of their expectations. The critical damage lies not in the fact that they have been disappointed, but in the fact that they feel cheated by their boss when he fails to deliver what he promise. To them, this may be seen as a sign of disrespect, that they, as subordinates are probably too insignificant to keep promises to. And by now, we all may realise how damaging such a notion may be to team dynamics and interpersonal relation should a team member think in this way.

Consider the case of Megan the hotel manager. As a member of her team, Alan, has been performing outstandingly over the past few months, Alan has requested for an upward revision of his salary in accordance to the added value he contribute to the team. In need of a contact point for a major client at that point in time, Megan assured Alan that she would recommend the request to higher management should Alan agree to take up the responsibility of this contact point. Alan agreed to the arrangement, and went on to do a splendid job with the client, and earned much praise for the hotel. However, Megan, upon finding a person to fill the role, completely forgot her promise, and eventually time went by. Naturally, Alan noticed this, and you can imagine the sheer disappointment he felt upon seeing his boss take his word so lightly.

Johnny is the operations manager of a fast food chain outlet. When Ginny, a staff at the outlet, requested to go on a day off the following day to attend her brother’s wedding, Johnny instantly agreed on that arrangement, assuring her that she would be able to go off without worries. However, he did so without checking to make sure that there was enough staff for the next day, and it turned out that extra staff was needed to cater to a group of school children on excursion. When he realised this, he changed his mind about letting Ginny go off. Now I believe you may emphatise with the sheer frustration Ginny experienced when she found out.

It has been said that the day our subordinates stop bringing us problems is the day we stop leading them. Displaying a lack of respect through not taking seriously our promises to them is a sure way to bring about this day. It is essential to foster an environment of respect in the workplace with our team, and in doing so, it is crucial that we learn the leadership lesson of respecting by holding true to our promises.

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