Leadership is One Big Sandbox

Respect in the workplace comes in many forms. Little demonstrations of respect here and there, all of them seemingly small and unnoticed, eventually add up to something significant. You contribute to a respectful workplace every day, and then all of the sudden others start to notice, start to contribute in their own way, and eventually you step back and look. And what you see is that all those seemingly little things now add up to some big, noticeable things that create a better work environment for everyone.

Moving from platitudes to specifics, here are some things to think about when cultivating a workplace culture where respect flows in all directions:

  • How well do you listen to your colleagues? Do you really listen and engage? Are you present when they speak? Or is your mind somewhere else?
  • Do you let other people speak in meetings? Or do you interrupt them and either finish their sentences for them or make your own separate point?
  • Are you always the first one to speak in meetings? Or do you ever sit back and let someone else go first?
  • How do you give feedback? Is it in a positive, caring way? Or do you give it harshly? Do you do it in public or private?

Little demonstrations of respect here and there, all of them seemingly small and unnoticed, eventually add up to something significant.

  • How do you receive feedback? Do you react defensively? Or do you listen (there is that word again) and absorb?
  • Do you show up on time? Do you meet your deadlines? Do you prepare enough to finish your meetings or phone calls on time? Do you respect other people’s time?
  • Do you acknowledge work well done? Or do you constantly criticize others’ work?
  • Do you take joy in someone else’s success? Or do you resent it and undermine it?
  • Do you respect authority, even when you don’t disagree?

The questions are simple, but the honest answers while looking in the mirror are difficult.

A respectful workplace isn’t a complicated concept, and isn’t something that has to come down from on high, although it is nice when it does. Everyone on the organizational chart contributes to it and owns it. So start the revolution today, at your desk, in your cubicle. Take a look at your own behaviors, and think hard about how you engage every single day.

I have a five-year old son and a three-month old daughter; the conversations we are having with him, and will eventually have with her, are exactly the same as the one I am having with you here. The workplace is one big sandbox. Let’s spend some time thinking about how we show up every day, and make the sandbox a better place.

 

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Dean is a recognized expert in persuasive communication. He is the founder and president of The Latimer Group, an executive coaching and training firm that that specializes in creating powerful communication skills for its clients. He is the author of two books: Move the World: Persuade Your Audience, Change Minds and Achieve Your Goals and Sharing the Sandbox: Building and Leading World-Class Teams in the 21st Century. Dean served as Chairman for the US Olympic Sailing Program from 2005 through 2012, and as Olympic Team Leader at the 2008 Games in Beijing and the 2012 Games in London. He trained for the 2000 US Olympic Team and finished second at the US Trials. He has won seven national championships and five international championships. Dean lives in Connecticut with his family.

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