“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own” (Benjamin Disraeli) 

When we treat people with respect, we help them gain confidence and reveal inner potential that otherwise might go untapped. Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him or her and to let him or her know that you trust him or her. This form of employee engagement and subsequent empowerment, unfortunately, seems to be overtaken by the desire for power, status and control in many leaders. As a result, employees lose respect for such leaders, the mission of the company and each other.  

Employee engagement is a process of integrity and transparency – it is not just a system. As John Schonegevel notes: “Too often we believe that we can improve employee engagement by managing it. That is, we take the view that employee engagement is as easy and as simple to engender as it is to build a new product or develop a new service or system. Unfortunately, it is nowhere near as simple as that because employee engagement is a complex human process. Employee engagement is both an organisational approach and a deeply personal one for each and every employee”.  

Employee engagement means that, with deep respect for the giftedness, strengths and abilities of others in the organisation, I approach employees and communicate with them sincerely to honour them and their contributions and draw out their very best potential. Ian Hutchinson notes: “Employee engagement is an investment we make for the privilege of staying in business”. Managers must make room for the richness of individuals (their strengths, giftedness and abilities) and let this richness loose in their respective organisations.  

Respect is the foundation of an employee engagement that rings true within an organisational culture. Dr Stephen R Covey (Everyday Greatness) honours respect in the following statement: “The principle of respect always sobers and humbles me, perhaps as much as any other principle. It contains a spirit of reverence for people. It brings a feeling of awe for the human spirit and for whom each person has the potential to become as a unique, progressing individual. It opens the eyes of people to the good that is within them. It welcomes differences and even celebrates them. One definition I have used for leadership over the years that I believe well represents the principle of respect is this: Leadership is communicating people’s worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves” 

Although we live in an interdependent world, we often behave with a spirit of individualism and selfishly honour our own exploits and achievements. We forget all too easily that we are who we are and we have achieved what we have achieved because we were encouraged, supported and given opportunity by family, friends, managers and colleagues. These helpful people provided the context for us to develop, grow and flourish. It is our responsibility to do the same for others – providing a respectful and safe environment to nurture potential and growth. 

Respect is the foundation of employee engagement. Respect communicates that I honour you, your potential and your contribution. It simply says that you are needed, you have a rightful place here and your input is valued. Respect sets our relationship free to explore new possibilities and the achievement of potential new outcomes. Respect solidifies our relationship. 

Free To Grow offers the face-to-face or virtual workshop, Engaging Leadership, to grow respect in our employee engagement attempts (www.freetogrow.com) 

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