Why do your subordinates respect you? Ideally, you give them many reasons: your patience, your firmness, your ability to communicate, your persistence, your emotional stability, your sense of humor.
But there’s one key driver of respect that managers often don’t take advantage of: your demonstrated ability to do what you ask your staff to do.
To be sure, managers aren’t paid to spend all their time – or even the bulk of it – in the trenches. The manager whose head is deeply buried in operations may not see critical problems coming, or golden opportunities.
But nothing gets favorable notice quite like the boss pitching in to take a couple of customer service calls, or put up that piece of drywall, or produce that schematic drawing that has to be finished by this afternoon but everyone else is too busy to tackle.
When you act in this way, you show employees that you:
- know what it’s really like to do their job, so your instructions about doing it are going to be realistic
- don’t consider yourself so elevated that you’re unwilling to “get your hands dirty”
- haven’t gotten “lazy” or “soft” from focusing on your managerial duties
- have specific task-related skills that they can learn from, and
- are a team player, as you ask them to be.
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