How Do Great Leaders Show Respect for Self and Others?

The Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, wrote, “Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.” This is good advice for one who wants to be a Great Leader. Consider this example of how a leader pursued a course of action that he thought would give him an advantage but ended up costing him dearly.

Shirley had been a counselor at the Family Counseling Center almost from its inception. As the agency grew, more counselors were brought on staff and everyone played “musical offices” so that clients and counselors could conduct sessions privately. In fact, Shirley had gone from having a private office to sharing the office with other counselors; to having a desk in the front office/reception area so that other counselors could use the office for private meetings with clients. Shirley was a team player and accepted the move cheerfully and was given the assurance that when the agency moved into a larger space in a few months, she would again be given a private office in recognition of her tenure and the nature of the work she was doing in addition to providing counseling.

On the day of the big move, Shirley picked up the box containing her personal belongings and went to the new office. Walking in the door, she was greeted by the FCC’s Director and led to a cubicle in what the floor plan called “the bullpen”. The Director told Shirley that he’d changed his mind, he didn’t feel that she needed nor deserved a private office. Other, less senior, counselors would be given the private offices. Needless to say, Shirley felt that she had been lied to and her dedication to the agency had been betrayed.

In the ensuing months, she wrapped up the various projects that she was working on and, when they were completed, she tendered her resignation and opened her own practice. Today, she has a very successful practice and does not regret her decision to “go independent”. As for the FCC, at last count, the Director had hired four new people to do the work that Shirley had previously done by herself. Over half the people who were on staff at FCC have now left having seen how the Director treated Shirley.

While it is unclear what advantage the Director believed he would achieve by his treatment of Shirley, what is clear is that the FCC lost a knowledgeable counselor who had been a valuable resource for the agency. It is also clear that he did not value or respect the talents and abilities that Shirley brought to the agency.

Great Leaders recognize the talents and abilities of those around them. They treat team members with respect, courtesy, and dignity. They keep the promises that they make. In doing these things, Great Leaders earn the loyalty and respect of the people who make up the team they have been given the privilege of leading.

How has a Great Leader demonstrated that he/she recognized the talents that you brought to the table? How did that individual show you respect? Click the “Comment” button and share your story.

Tom Hoisington is a speaker, trainer, and author whose goal is to provide leaders and potential leaders with tools that empower them to build teams that are creative and cost effective along with a clearer understanding of how personality types interact within those teams. He can be contacted at

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