Leading with Respect?

The value of leaders

These days more than ever, it is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind pace of things that MUST be done. Consequently, this can result in a seemingly endless, breathless game of “whack-a-mole”. If you ask leaders what they think the biggest value they bring is, many will say, “The ability to solve problems” or “The ability to make decisions fast”. But is that their true value? Would it not be better to grow these abilities in the people they lead? Thus, fostering in them the skills to be able to do these things just as well as their leaders? In order to truly demonstrate “Leading with Respect”?

The risk to leaders

But to grow this ability in an organization would mean leaders having to let go of control. And that, to many, is a really scary thought. They may think, “What if I am not there to tell people what to do?” “What if they make the wrong decision?” “What if that means I won’t be needed anymore?” Well obviously, a shift like this is not easy, nor is it going to happen overnight. It takes leaders to be comfortable with who they are. And it takes investment in coaching people. It takes structure. And it takes time. But it is possible!

Management impact

How many of you see “management” making decisions that materially affect people’s work without even consulting with them? Maybe they make major changes to people’s shift pattern on the day that the change will occur – and don’t tell them beforehand? Maybe they are forcing people to do tasks they are not trained for or are not comfortable with? “Management” may be mentally blaming the people for all the problems they perceive? This can result in people being really unhappy with how they are treated and actively looking to change jobs. How is any of this leading with respect?

Owning the problem

Does your organization feel like this? If so, there is help in sight with the concept of leading with respect. But it does take “management” to see that the problem is in fact with them. Not an easy thing to swallow for anyone, let alone leaders that have built their self-worth on years of fixing other people’s problems. But imagine the power you would unleash with having an Army of problem solvers instead of a just a few Generals. How much more could you achieve? Subsequently what would be the impact on everyone’s stress levels?

Where to learn more

These are not original ideas and concepts, and I cannot possibly tell you in a brief posting how to get to “Leading with Respect”. All I am trying to do here is to let you know that there is a path forward. The credit for these ideas goes to Freddie and Michael Balle and their book “Lead with Respect”.

Lead With Respect: A Novel of Lean Practice: Balle, Michael, Balle, Freddy, Womack, Jim: 9781934109472: Amazon.com: Books

Leading with respect

No, I am not getting paid to endorse this book!  I just think that it does a marvelous job of describing the journey of how to get to the place of leading with respect.  So, if your organization does feel like the one described above, then read the book. It is not that long and written as a novel to be very engaging. I promise it will resonate with you, give you some tips on how to get to leading with respect, and let you know that you are not alone.

Feel like a team? – Eli Sharp Consulting, LLC.

Brown paper and Post-it notes – Eli Sharp Consulting, LLC.

Eli Sharp Consulting, LLC.


  1. Steve Marsh on July 19, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    Great article Eli

    • Eli Sharp Consulting, LLC. on July 28, 2022 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks Steve!

  2. Nestor Contreras on July 28, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    Great book. Remembered the video about Ernest Shackleton

    Ernest Shackleton is a clear leader who showed respect and strategy.

    • Eli Sharp Consulting, LLC. on July 28, 2022 at 2:06 pm

      Yes, indeed Nestor. Hope all is well with you!