In this 21 part series, based on John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I’m taking you on a journey towards better leadership. I share with you my own leadership lessons and insights. As a John Maxwell Team Member I’ll be happy to deliver transformational leadership training for your team or organization. See the details below.
Part 7 of 21: The Law of Respect
The Law of Respect: People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves. ~ John C. Maxwell
People don’t follow others by accident. They follow individuals whose leadership they respect. People who are an 8 in leadership (on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the strongest) don’t go out and look for a 6 to follow – they naturally follow a 9 or 10. The less skilled follow those more skilled and gifted. In general, people are attracted to people who are better leaders than themselves.
What causes one person to respect and follow another? Is it because of the qualities of the leader? Or is it due to process the person follows? Or maybe the circumstances? John Maxwell identifies following top six ways to help leaders gain others’ respect:
1. Natural leadership ability
If you possess natural leadership ability, people will want to follow you. They will want to be around you. They will listen to you. They will become excited when you communicate vision. But remember the Law of Solid Ground. Talent itself is never enough. If you don’t have some of the additional practices and characteristics listed below, you will not reach your leadership potential, and people may not continue to follow you. One of the greatest potential pitfalls for natural leaders is relying on talent alone.
2. Respect for others
Dictators and other autocratic leaders rely on violence and intimidation to get people to do what they want. That’s not leadership. Good leaders rely on respect. When people respect you as a leader, they follow you.
Good leaders do what’s right, even at the risk of failure, in the face of great danger and under the brunt of relentless criticism. A leader’s courage has great value: it gives followers hope.
People respect others’ accomplishments. It’s hard to argue with a good track record. When leaders are successful in their own endeavors, people respect them. Especially in this time and age when people pretend to be bigger than they actually are, many eagerly seek those with success in specific area to learn from. What is your success area? Where can you inspire others to succeed?
In a culture of constant change, turnover, and transition, loyalty is an asset. When leaders stick with the team until the job is done, remain loyal to the organization when the going gets tough, and look out for followers even when it hurts them, followers respect them and their actions.
6. Value added to others
Perhaps the greatest source of respect for a leader comes from his or her dedication to adding value to others. You can read more about this in the Law of Addition here.
If you want to measure how much respect you have as a leader, the first thing you should do is to look at who you attract. The second thing you should do is to see how your people respond when you ask for commitment or change.
When leaders are respected and they ask for commitment, their people step up and sign up. They are ready to take risks, put in longer hours, or do whatever else is necessary to get the job done. Likewise, when respected leaders ask for change, followers are willing to embrace it. I’ve experienced it over and over with my teams in different settings and occasions. People are always willing to go extra mile to support a leader they respect.
But when leaders who are not respected ask for commitment or change, people doubt, question, make excuses, or they simply walk away. It is very hard for a leader who hasn’t earned respect to get other people to follow.
If you ever become frustrated because the people you want to follow you are reluctant to, it very well may be that you are trying to lead people whose leadership is stronger than yours.
What can you do about it? Become a better leader! There’s always hope for a leader who wants to grow. And the more you grow, the better the people you will attract. Because people naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves.
This article is part of a 21-part leadership series.
To your success,
PS: To gain even more insights into leadership, get a complimentary access to my Leadership Breakthrough eCourse below.