5 Leadership Behaviors that are key for creating commitment in your team

Marianne Slotboom
Mar 30, 2022

No other leadership behavior has a bigger effect on commitment and engagement of team members than respect. Read the tips and verify where and how you can demonstrate more respect and create the highest commitment of your team.

Respect has the biggest effect on engagement and commitment

Many leadership behaviors have demonstrated to be important for creating commitment from your team members and bringing them to high performance. We listed the 10 key leadership principles for agile teams already on our Insights Blog. However, in a study of nearly 20,000 employees around the world, conducted by HBR, it is found that there is one leadership behavior that is even more impactful than these principles, and that is the respect the leader shows for the team members.

How to demonstrate more respect?

Even when leaders know that showing respect is critical, team members often find that leaders could do better. If you think you could use some ideas on how to show more respect, you can consider the following actions.

1. Collect feedback on your strengths

This action will help you know the best part of yourself. You could collect feedback via email from about 10 people (coworkers, friends, maybe family). Ask each for positive examples of your best leadership behaviors. After compiling the feedback, try to find the patterns. When, where, how, with whom are you at your best? Use your insights to reinforce what you’re doing well. Be mindful of additional opportunities to be your best civil self and leverage your interpersonal strengths.

2. Gather feedback on your shortcomings

You can as well collect candid feedback from your colleagues and friends on where you could improve. Specifically, what are your shortcomings? You could ask a couple of trusted colleagues who have the best intentions for you, people who can provide direct and honest feedback. Ask for their views about how you treat other people, do you support them enough? Where could you demonstrate more respect? A useful tool for giving and receiving feedback is the DESC method. We describe this method in our Insights Blog article: Leadership Responsibilities: Mastering the art of giving feedback. You could as well create a culture where you receive feedback during your one-on-ones with team members. It is important that you don’t defend yourself and listen carefully.

3. Ask for a mentor or coach

These people can uncover potential weaknesses in your leadership behaviors through surveying and interviewing those with whom you work. They may even shadow you at meetings and events to pick up on subtleties including non-verbal behavior. A skilled coach can make you aware of some of the underlying assumptions, beliefs, experiences, that could facilitate unconscious, disrespectful behaviors. Once you are more aware of these aspects, you can choose to work on those leadership behaviors and make sure you demonstrate more respect for team members.

Leadership behaviors
Leadership behavior: Ask for a mentor or coach

4. Discover how you can improve

Once you have clarity on which behaviors you want to improve, you can gather information from others about how best to improve this. It is called the “feedforward” method, originated by author Marshall Goldsmith, and it is a great way to gather specific ideas for improving your behavior. How could you do this?

  1. Describe what you would like to improve in which situations.
  2. Ask for two suggestions. Encourage creative ideas.
  3. Listen carefully. Write the suggestions down.
  4. Respond with “thank you.” Nothing more. No excuses or defensiveness.
  5. You can repeat by asking additional people.

5. Take time for reflection

Write down for yourself when/where/why you are at your best and when people say you are not respectful. Identify situations that cause you to lose your temper. It might have to do with your lack of energy at the end of the day, the fact that you feel stressed, certain activities or situations. Try to be more mindful of this behavior. Reflection helps you identify strategies to maintain composure and be your best, most civil self. Track yourself and review progress on a regular basis (e.g., weekly or monthly).

How to encourage your team members to show more respect?

While you’re working to improve your own leadership behaviors, encourage your team members to do the same. You can have an open discussion with your team about what you and your teammates do or say that conveys respect. How or when are you and your teammates less than civil to each other? What could you do or say better? Discuss what the team will gain by being more respectful of each other. As the entire team develops norms, hold one another accountable for them. Consider yourselves coaches that are helping to improve both individual and team performance.

This post is derived from an article of Christine Porath in the HBR Guide to Emotional Intelligence, 2021.

Marianne Slotboom
The author
Marianne Slotboom

Marianne is a strategic partner and practical developer of human behavior that helps leaders, teams and organizations become more focused and effective, elevating their value to customers. In 2015, Marianne founded Yellow Training to answer the call for more inspirational and creative leadership in the modern workplace.

More about the author

This might also interest you