John Maxwell on Leadership

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Find Out What It Means


Below are seven action steps that can enable you to earn respect from those you lead.

  • Respect yourself and those you work with
  • Exceed the expectations of others
  • Stand firm on your convictions and principles
  • Possess maturity beyond your years
  • Experience success in your family life and career
  • Contribute to the success of others
  • Think ahead of others

1) Respect yourself and those you work with

Self-respect comes with understanding who you are - your personality and purpose. You may not always win, but when you routinely give outstanding effort and you will experience success. Do not take failure or criticism personally. After failing, never give yourself permission to self-identify as a failure.  

Respect is a building block of meaningful relationships, and it comes about when we place value on other people. As Ari Kiev writes, “Everyone wants to feel that he/ she counts for something and is important to someone. Invariably, people will give their love, respect, and attention to the person who fills that need.” In other words, believing the best in people brings out the best in people.

2) Exceed the Expectations of Others

Begin by setting high personal standards for yourself. Get rid of the “get by” mentality and push yourself to work with excellence and not just adequacy. After that, learn the expectations others have of you—both your teammates and customers. Finally, fulfill those expectations and go beyond them.

3) Stand Firm on Your Convictions and Principles

Strong convictions precede great actions. As a leader it’s always tempting to make palatable decisions that promise safety instead of bold ones that involve risk.

4) Possess a Maturity Well-Beyond Your Years

One mark of maturity is the willingness to assume responsibility. As Ed Cole said, “Maturity doesn’t come with age; it comes with acceptance of responsibility.” Another sign of maturity is consistency—routinely delivering results. A third indication of maturity is character, or the willingness to do what’s right even when it’s costly. A fourth and final mark of maturity is confidence. People more readily follow leaders who exude faith in their abilities.

5) Experience Success in Your Family and Career

Neither success nor failure is a one-time event. Rather, both result from the accumulation of thousands of seemingly insignificant actions done day-by-day and week-by-week. Identify which activities, performed daily, will develop you into the type of leader you aspire to be and then be relentless about practicing them.

6) Contribute to the Success of Others

However you define success, it has to involve helping people. In the words of Alan Loy McGinnis: “There is no more noble occupation in the world than to assist another human being—to help someone succeed.

7) Think Ahead of Others

Leaders gain respect because they think ahead of others and more deeply than others. They project their minds into the future, and they discipline themselves to put sustained thought into major issues facing their team.

Thought to Ponder

Arnold Glasow wrote that, “The respect of those you respect is worth more than the applause of the multitude.” Among the people you know, for whom do you have the greatest respect? Why?


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