Most of us at one time or another in our careers have taken assessments to determine our strengths or identify our behavioral styles. One of the assessments I used as a partial basis for hiring executive assistants measured a person’s need to be liked. This assessment revealed why most of the assistants I hired didn’t last. I found this revelation both amazing—and amusing!
Most of them in keeping with the type of work they were doing aimed to please. Without exception they drove me crazy as they followed me around wanting my approval on each small task they completed. I on the other hand, after explaining what was to be done and how to do it wanted nothing more than to be left alone to do my own work. The assessment numbers told the story: Ms. Executive Assistant’s need to be liked ranked in the 90th percentile while my own need to be liked was in the 5th percentile. Two extremes—oil and water. Had the assessment measured my need for respect, my guess is I’d be in the 90th percentile. Respect is important to me—non-negotiable.
Whether your need to be liked or your need for respect determine your behavior, the choices you make will have an enormous impact on the outcomes of your life. People whose desire to please is center of the plate, often say “yes” then wish they’d said, “no.” It may be as simple as saying “yes” to serving on a committee or giving in to a child’s whining. Yet there are times when requests may be tinged with legal or ethical breaches, higher stakes and ominous consequences.
Take the example of someone who supplied prescription drugs and alcohol to teenagers having a party. Sadly, that decision resulted in death for one of the guests. Now the “supplier” awaits trial and a possible life sentence.
“How could anyone be so shortsighted—so blind to the possible consequences—as to contribute to the delinquency of minors?” I asked my teacher friend. Her response has haunted me for days. She said, “To be cool. You would be amazed at the number of parents who supply alcohol and drugs to their kids and their kids’ friends just to be seen as ‘cool.’“
Long before respect is apparent on the outside it germinates within us on the inside. There are four very important words in life. Real Love, honesty, truth and respect. Without these in your life you have nothing.
Ethical and moral compromises, my friends, are no shortcut to being liked nor will they ever cast their smutty shadow across the road to respect. Respect is gained on difficult ground when you’ve done something to deserve it. It’s not a “given” and it doesn’t come with age, tenure or luck. Respect is borne of character, courage, diligence, trust and integrity. Out of those qualities develops a lifestyle that begets respect and positions you for leadership.
Make no mistake about it: Respect is an inside job—high paying with incredible benefits!