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Leadership Nugget – Mutual Respect

By SRAI News posted 05-11-2023 12:30 PM


Leadership Nugget – Mutual Respect

As leaders we continually grow. I wanted to share a recent experience that continually allows me to grow… painfully… but still grow personally and professionally. I call this recent experience the Mutual Respect factor.

The experience actually started a little under two years ago and I got a thought in my head about a colleague that is supposed to be equal in title and responsibility. I know I shouldn’t have but I started to evaluate them from the get-go. Though I do not have any right myself to evaluate, it’s natural that we do (it is unnatural to act on the ill will of those thoughts). The notion that I had was “I’m busting my bum for what I believe is to be a good work ethic, tote the line for my one-ups, keeping this department/division afloat, doing extra things to cultivate a great working environment, taking on side projects that my boss asks of me without giving any disgruntles… and so forth”, all while you see your equal colleague skating by. 

The first natural thought is that ‘it’s not fair.’ The second natural thought is ‘why should I care anymore about the extra stuff I do? It’s not going to get me anywhere closer to promotion, higher compensation, or the accolades I deserve.’ I recently got a chance to speak with this equal colleague and after a collective meeting, this individual pulled me aside and asked if we could speak. I agreed and we went for a little walk, and they asked if I was happy. Happy is a relative term but I understood what they were asking. 

In general, yes, I was happy with the environment I work in, with the team I work with, and with my leaders that provide me instruction/direction, even though I disagree sometimes but I go about what I’m asked. Which begs why this individual was not. They stated they felt their team is awful, but they haven’t put any effort into cultivating and developing their individual talents. They stated their leader(s) ‘suck,’ yet they haven’t put any effort into dialoguing with their leader(s) and understanding the mission/direction desired of them.

Their question to me was why it looks like I am so successful and what’s the secret. I was kind of thrown-back, since it was coming from someone that I thought was just as experienced and knowledgeable, but I was surprised to think they wanted the secret to my team’s success given to them on a silver platter. My response was, “My team and I have a mutual respect.” A mutual respect of leaders, of each team member, of myself. I hold my team and my leaders accountable, why shouldn’t you give them the same respect as well and allow them to hold you accountable? 

Mutual respect goes a long way silently since it gives authority to others as well as to yourself. You don’t have to like or ask someone to like you, but you can ask for respect just as long as you can reciprocate as well. I recommended the book Surrounded by Idiots to this individual (which the title in itself they found amusing). When I read it, it brought a lot of things to light and it made me realize I had to respect myself first before asking for mutual respect of others. 

Authored by Jason J. Claes, Oncology Clinical Research Manager
TriHealth Cancer Institute