Respect Is Essential For Leadership

Yesterday, I wrote of disappointment with my U.S. Senator and political decorum in general after a Twitter conversation. Today is a follow-up to that.

The level doesn’t matter. I’ve learned this lesson to be true in every leadership position I’ve held. Every one, from president of a fraternity and a leader in other student organizations, to a leader in the Knights of Columbus, to a leader in numerous church organizations, to a manager overseeing employees, to a father and husband:

Showing respect to those your serve is not charity. Showing respect is a duty.

With the spat with Sen. John Cornyn, his disrespect for a higher office, the Presidency of the United States, is serious issue, but the lack of respect toward a constituent, a person he serves, was more telling of this lesson of leadership. As a leader, sometimes you’re the first among equals—anyone in the room could switch out positions with you without the wheels coming off the axles. Sometimes, you are the leader because your skillset, your knowledge, your abilities are deemed better equipped for the time. Sometimes, you are the leader because you simply are smarter, stronger and have greater ability than anyone else.

In all cases, respect is the cornerstone of an effective leadership platform.

My two-year old provides the perfect test subject for this theory of leadership. I am her leader because I am smarter, stronger and all around better at all things. As her father when she is a toddler, in no area, in which I can defer to her decision. She can have her opinions, but feeding her nothing but cookies in a day, I can never allow.