Published on January 5, 2021

How to Become a Leader That People Respect

How to Become a Leader That People Respect

All I am asking…is for a little respect. That is the line that Aretha Franklin made popular in 1967 with her hit song entitled RESPECT. If we are honest, the words of that song ring true in our hearts today. As leaders, this concept of respect is even more powerful as each of us wants to learn how to become a leader that people respect day in and day out[1].

Did you know that there were two versions of the song RESPECT? Each one of the versions had a different message and demonstrated what they believed to be the best way to get the respect they had desired. Let’s take a moment to point out a stark difference between the two versions. We will use these two songs to illustrate how to become a leader that people respect.

What Not to Do to Gain Respect

In 1965 the first version of RESPECT, by Otis Redding, came to the stage. When you listen to Otis’s version you can pick up on the major difference of how respect is both defined and gained. In Redding’s version, he is sending a plea from a desperate man, who will give his woman anything she wants, begging her for the respect he deserves.

Otis doesn’t care if she does him wrong. He doesn’t care what she does as long as he gets his due respect when he brings money home. For Otis, as long as he provided the life she wanted, he demanded respect in return.

You can hear this in the opening words of his song:

What you want

Honey, you’ve got it

And what you need

Baby you’ve got it

All I’m asking


Is for a little respect when I come home

At first glance, these words seem harmless enough. They are of a man trying to earn his respect from a woman that he is in a relationship with. However, these words point out two ways that no longer work when trying to earn respect, especially as you’re learning how to become a leader.

1. Begging

People do not respect people who beg. A person who begs comes across as desperate and needy. It can grate on people’s nerves and be a bit annoying. Begging plays on a person’s emotions until the beggar obtains the desired outcome.

When people beg for respect, their self-esteem is low, or they have lost their sense of identity. It could be from living a life of abuse or rejection. Most often it stems from childhood. Then, as adults, it comes across as desperate, insecure, needy, or co-dependent.

It is hard to gain respect when you are a person who feels compelled to beg for it. That person deserves respect, as all people deserve love and respect. Yet, there is something inside of humanity that looks at begging as deficient.

In reality, there are only two responses that a person will have when they see this behavior. When they see someone begging, a person will either pity them or turn their head in disgust. What is fascinating is that neither response is about showing the person respect.

If you are wanting to learn how to become a leader, then begging is the number one thing you want to avoid.

2. Negotiating

People have no respect for other people using them to fulfill their agendas. When learning how to become a leader that people respect, I recommend you avoid bartering for it. When I negotiate for respect, I am trying to negotiate with you for something I don’t have. The implication is that I am trying to get you to give me respect when I don’t have respect for myself.

There is a huge difference between negotiating with respect and negotiating for respect. When I negotiate with respect, I am negotiating from a place of security. I am showing you the proper respect because it is flowing from a place of trust.

Without personal respect, respecting others becomes a struggle. Instead of negotiating for respect, we must move to negotiate with respect. If we, as leaders, negotiate for respect, we will lose it. The leader who loses respect loses their leverage, which causes you to lose any chance of a mutually beneficial outcome.


Negotiating from a healthy place can be an incredible tool in the leader’s toolbelt. Demonstrating a lack of self-respect removes all opportunity that the negotiation would provide.

Respected leaders are secure in themselves and look for ways to serve others. They drop the personal agenda and push to an agenda that is beneficial to all. If you are looking to learn how to become a leader that people respect, then negotiate with respect.

What to Do to Gain Respect

Standing in stark contrast to Otis’s version of RESPECT is Aretha’s version. Franklin’s version is a declaration from a strong, independent, and confident woman. She knows what she has and what she desires. The woman in the song meets the needs of the man she is singing about, and there is never a time when she does him wrong. In exchange for all this, all she is asking for is his respect.

What you want, baby, I got it

What you need, do you know I got it?

All I’m askin’ is for a little respect when you come home

I ain’t gonna do you wrong while you’re gone

Ain’t gon’ do you wrong ’cause I don’t wanna

Aretha gives us insight into what it takes to get the respect you desire. Unlike Otis, Aretha won’t beg for it. She demands it.

With her, there is only one real option. You will either respect her or you won’t be with her. She is willing to give her all to you, but in return, she expects an equal exchange. There will be no middle ground in what she asking for. You will respect her all the way or not at all.


Aretha’s version shows us that learning how to become a leader who is respected can be seen in two ways.

1. Mutual Exchange

To gain respect, we must first give it. There is a mutual level of equal exchange with respect. The principle of mutual exchange would say, “The level of respect that I demand from you I must also give to you.”

Respect isn’t a one-way street. When we demand it, we must also be willing to give it. Living at this level requires 3 things from us.


If you are a leader who wants to learn how to become a leader that people respect, then clarity is key. You must be clear on who you are, what you stand for, and what you are willing to allow into your life. If you are unclear on any of these then your ability to command respect will begin to diminish.

Be a leader who builds clarity and self-awareness so that people will respect you and what you stand for.


If clarity is the key, then confidence is the foundation. Have you ever held high respect for someone who showed a lack of confidence? There is something about confidence that attracts us to it like a moth to a flame. The more confidence a person has, the more we want to be around them.

To us, confidence will show whether we perceive a person to be weak or strong. Even though it may be a tough pill to swallow, respect goes to the strong.


People need to trust you before they respect you. If you want to learn how to become a leader that people respect, then you must develop a high level of consistency. Become a leader people can trust by becoming a leader who has a consistent pattern.

2. Mutual Understanding

The goal of any relationship is to learn to understand the other person. It is about understanding that we all share different beliefs and values. Yet, it is within these differences that we can find commonality and learn to appreciate and respect who we are as individuals. If we are to learn how to become a leader that people respect, then we must come to a place of mutual understanding.

Basic Leadership Truths

There are some simple truths you should be aware of as you seek to learn how to become a leader that people respect.


1. Respect Is Earned

As leaders, part of us wants to believe that respect is automatic. That may have been the case 20 years ago, but that is not the case today. We must always take the posture of mutual respect and understanding.

To gain, I must give and help people move to the next level in their growth and push them to be the best. These are ways to gain respect as you move up the ladder of leadership. Respect takes time, but with consistent effort, you can achieve a great deal.

2. Respect Comes as a Result of Who You Are

You have the potential and the ability to command respect because of who you are and what you do for people. Yet, if the person doesn’t give you the proper respect, that should never change who you are.

Your identity is not linked to how people feel about you. Your identity is about who you are. Respect is a result of how you interact with who they are.

The better you treat people, the more respect you will gain.

3. Respect Takes Time to Gain and Seconds to Lose

When searching for how to become a leader that people will respect, that is a lot of pressure to be under. Respect can take years to earn, but one wrong move can cause you to lose someone’s trust.

Throughout this process, don’t allow a need for approval and a fear of rejection to cause you to be anything other than who you were meant to be. Grow into a leader that will change lives, but live always according to your personal values.

Be a leader who is devoted to the development of your character. If someone wants to leave because they are intimidated by the best version of you, then let them go!

The Bottom Line

John C. Maxwell once said,

“When people respect someone as a person, they admire her. When they respect her as a friend, they love her. When they respect her as a leader, they follow her.”

As you learn how to be a leader, keep showing up, keeping pouring into yourself, and keep living with integrity. You may not see it now, but you are building something that will impact people for generations to come.

More on Leadership

Featured photo credit: TienDat Nguyen via


[1] Harvard Business Review: How to Earn Respect as a Leader

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Jim Burgoon

Founder of The Everyday Leader

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.


Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]


Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]


3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?


The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via


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