ACTivity/ Respect at Work

Photo by Ba Phi on Pexels

Photo by Ba Phi on Pexels


Manila, 17 April 2019 — If you’re looking for a framework to build cross-generational leadership with respect in your workplace, this post is for you.

Over the past weeks we reviewed the importance of two-way traffic in cross-generational leadership between executives and Millennials. We discovered that the current patterns of communication need to change, and that executives can take a lead when they shift from a directive telling style to embrace coaching and mentoring styles at work.

We then explored the experiences that many emerging Millennial leaders have with senior executives and professionals in unproductive patterns of respect. Too often, they find that respect is expected and even demanded, and for what they see as the wrong reasons.

Looking at the Colors of Respect, we learned that respect can actually be given for many reasons, and not only for age, length of experience, and a position in the hierarchy. These reasons can be expressed in seven colors that represent a range of different worldviews.

In the meantime, readers responded and contributed their views. Lavanya Susarla, a commercialisation manager at Queensland Urban Utilities in Brisbane, remarked that respect should be earned, not demanded.

Susarla went on to point out the need for cultural reform at the organizational level, where hierarchy should enable rather than hinder the expression of ideas.

Reflecting on these and other comments, I contextualized a Respect@Work framework drawing on the DAC model of leadership with its three outcomes of Direction, Alignment, and Commitment.

Let’s explore the three circles of the Respect@Work Framework in the diagram below.

Direction: Culture of Respect

As Lavanya Susarla pointed out, the direction you want to see is a change in the culture of businesses and organizations to create a fertile ground for cross-generational leadership, where executives and Millennials treat each other with respect and work productively for innovation and sustainability.

When executives see the need for such a change in culture and take the initiative, rapid progress becomes possible. On the other hand, where management still has to be convinced, the capacity of Millennials to influence such cultural changes should not be underestimated.

That point is driven home powerfully by today’s youth leaders like 16-year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden, who at her age is already influencing the world’s most senior leaders for climate action. Surely, if Gen Z leaders like Greta can step up in that fashion, Millennials can do it too, and probably get even better results from their efforts to influence upward to executives in their business or organization?

On the other hand, however, stories abound of workplaces where a toxic culture makes collaborative work impossible. If you find yourself at such a workplace, and your efforts at influencing upward for positive changes keep falling on deaf ears, it may be best to move and find a better employer who believes in supporting and empowering leaders like you.

Many emerging leaders who have decided to leave toxic work environments have reported much better results and career growth after making such a move.

Respect@Work: a framework for practicing and influencing a cross-generational culture of respect at your workplace.

Respect@Work: a framework for practicing and influencing a cross-generational culture of respect at your workplace.

Alignment: Gain Respect

The second dimension is about alignment, and here is where things turn personal. Are you ready to visit your own personal world for a deep dive of transformation?

If respect has to be earned, you should focus your effort on making sure that you do so. This, you will agree, applies in equal measure to executives and Millennials. If applies to you and everyone who wants to influence and lead change.

Mike Michelsen’s quote eloquently points out that how you view things, your attitude, and your belief systems (worldview), play a major role in how others see and respect you.

Receiving respect depends a lot on ourselves, how we view things, our attitude, and our belief system.
— Mike Michelsen

So, rather than blame others for problems and a lack of change, the best place to start work is on yourself! Do you already have what it takes, and are you already showing effective leadership behaviors that can earn you other people’s respect?

This is why I have called my thought leaders practice TransformationFirst.Asia. If you want to bring about change, transform yourself first! Because the hard truth is that you cannot change other people. You can only influence change. Leadership starts with leading your self, every day. Only then can you hope to be effective at leading others.

Do you as a leader have some work to do on yourself to gain the respect of others? Most of us do because we are human and far from perfect.

To point you in some helpful directions, here are Jesicka Labud’s 21 ways. If those are not enough, you can go for the whole enchilada of 99 ways shared by Lolly Daskal in Inc.

While these articles provide pointers you can take action on right away, the best way to work on yourself to earn the respect of others is to take leadership training and coaching for several months, depending on your goals and the changes (alignments) you want to make.

Once again, working on yourself in order to earn more respect from others is a task for everyone, at all ages, including for senior executives, managers, and professionals.

Commitment: Influencing Respect

Once you know you where you want to go and the positive changes you want to influence (direction), and you are ready to do your homework on your self-leadership to make sure that you can earn other people’s respect (alignment), it’s time to commit to practice.

The actual practice of cross-generational leadership happens through conversations, every day. You need to be in the right rooms with the right people and at the right times, and you need to use your voice (and your ears) as a leader.

Leaders create changes, one person, one relationship, and one conversation at a time. That’s the formula for success, and it all happens through conversations.

Here is where the awareness, skills, and mastery to Work In All Colors pays off to get you good results. You will improve your communication abilities to become an effective influencer, with different people and in different situations.

In these influencing conversations, as you practice your skills, you will learn to both give and receive respect for others, and do so in many different styles.

In summary, we looked at a framework for Respect@Work that draws on the DAC model of leadership, where we focus on direction, alignment, and commitment. The direction is out there in your observed world. Alignment is homework in your personal world. And commitment is everyday work in your social world, through the conversations you have.

Have you noticed the three arrows in the framework?

The current culture in your workplace, in relation to cross-generational leadership or the lack of it, will cause you emotions that can motivate you to do your alignment homework. From there, your attitude will be put right (aligned) to commit to your influencing work, one conversation at a time. In this way, you influence culture in your workplace.

And so the cycle continues, and you will get skilled to make it a virtuous cycle and process to create positive changes that improve cross-generational leadership with respect being given and received where it matters.

Now you can start putting the Respect@Work framework in practice in your workplace, and I am looking forward to hearing about your experiences.

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