Leadership Series Part One: Rules of Respect 

Before I start this new blog series, let me say that I wrote this one, and attended this conference, before the events  in Charlottesville, Va., happened. So while I found one particular session incredibly relevant, a mere one week later, it became even more so.

The event I am referring to is the two-day Global Leadership Summit, an international event held in Chicago and simulcast to reach 160,000 leaders. This was the second year I attended and, once again, I learned so much from a vast array of extremely accomplished business leaders. In one session I took furious notes from leadership expert Bill Hybels on his top ten rules of respect. Following are those rules, and then the two out of the ten that resonated most with me. Perhaps these could be applicable in your jobs and lives as well.

Rule # 1. Leaders must set the example on how to differ with others without demonizing them.

Rule # 2. Leaders must set the example of how to have spirited conversations without drawing blood.

Rule # 3.  Leaders must not interrupt others who are talking and must not dominate the conversation.

Rule # 4.  Leaders must set the example of limiting their volume levels and refusing to use incendiary or belittling words that guarantee to derail a discussion.

Rule # 5.  Leaders must set the example of being courteous in word and deed to everyone at every level.

Rule # 6.  Leaders must never stereotype.

Rule # 7.  Leaders must apologize immediately when they are wrong, instead of denying or doubling down.

Rule # 8.  Leaders must form opinions carefully and stay open-minded if better information comes along.

Rule # 9.  Leaders must set the example of showing up when they say they are going to show up and doing what they say they are going to do.

Rule # 10.  Leaders must set “Rules of Respect” for everyone in the organization and enforce them relentlessly.

Many of these seem fairly obvious, don’t they? Then why don’t we all practice them on a daily basis—no matter where we fall on the organizational chart? Below are two of his rules that really struck me.

  1. Leaders must set the example of being courteous in word and deed to everyone at every level. Hybels opened the conference by telling attendees how extremely hard it is to lead in today’s divisive environment, then gave some alarming statistics:
  • 50 percent of today’s workforce is treated rudely.
  • The performance of a worker who is disrespected goes down 50 percent.
  • 20 percent of those in the above group take it out on the customer.
  1. Leaders must set “Rules of Respect” for everyone in the organization and enforce them relentlessly. To that end, Hybels shared the published civility code of one large organization, which includes statements like these: “We will greet and acknowledge each other each day. We will say please and thank you.” My first thought was, are you kidding me? But apparently civility has to be taught, and if you look at how people treat each other these days, Hybels has a point. Also in that company’s civility code is this statement: “We will address incivility immediately.” So then it all kind of makes sense. The company tells you to be kind, and if you aren’t, your behavior won’t be tolerated.

So stating the obvious, let’s all be courteous and, as a result, operate in a more friendly and productive workplace—and world.

Look to my future blogs for more great advice I learned from a variety of leaders.