The Role of Self-Esteem in Respect and Leadership

By October 5, 2013Leadership

Respect and Self-EsteemIn reading The Respect Effect, there were some surprises. It triggered key thoughts on the just how essential a respectful environment is (more than you even imagine), along with the importance of self-esteem in keeping and engaging in meaningful, respectful working relationships.

Paul Meshanko challenges leaders and team members to really embrace respect in all we do for a very crucial reason:  Respect ripples through all, creating better people, better workplaces, and better communities.

What Is Respect?

Paul defines respect as:

“…as an active process of nonjudgmentally engaging people from all backgrounds. It is practiced to increase our awareness and effectiveness and demonstrated in a manner that esteems both us and those with whom we interact.”

The respect stage is set with many key words and actions:

  • Engaging all people
  • Increasing awareness and effectiveness
  • Bringing esteem to all

A respectful environment and respectful interactions empower people to be more engaged, healthier, and more productive. This delivers an attitude that flows through to working with people across functions and, ultimately, customers who are more satisfied and happy with the products and services delivered. A respectful culture builds growth mindsets.

Without respect, many elements begin to deteriorate. People develop unhealthy habits and attitudes. Team members are not engaging to improve processes or guide valuable outcomes. Without respect, mindsets and attitudes lose their focus and begin to hunker down or just leave.

Respect is required to build healthy cultures and healthy individuals. We need to remember the impacts.

The Role of Self-Esteem in Respect

Another key definition in this conversation is self-esteem. Self-esteem is:

“…the degree to which individuals feel comfortable with themselves as they are, believe that they have inherent value as individuals, and demonstrate confidence in their ability to successfully achieve their own measure of success.”

Self-esteem is a mix of:

  • Being comfortable with ourselves
  • Believing in ourselves
  • Understanding and demonstrating our value
  • Exhibiting confidence in what we do

It isn’t being cocky, self-centered, or bossy. Self-esteem is about representing ourselves with comfortable confidence, equal among equals.

As the book points out, self-esteem frees us to build healthy relationships, deliver greater energy in what we do, and do the work with others without weighing everyone down in ego management.

The important point here is self-esteem plays a key role in respect. It holds us accountable in how we interact and work with others, and self-esteem repels disrespect. Self-esteem keeps us centered. As the book outlines, we need to engage in practices to build and keep our self-esteem. Others will notice this in our presence and will likely deliver greater respect to us in the process.

Respect, Self-Esteem, Trust, and Leading

Respect is core to relationships. It should drive esteem in ourselves and in others. Respect translates to trust. The higher the respect between individuals, teams, and departments, the greater the trust. With solid respect and engaging trust, leaders lead with greater meaning and results.

The Respect Effect delivers insights on the impact of respect and the practices to ensure it is present in all you do.

Respect makes us all stronger.

How do you practice respect? How do you build your self-esteem and keep it balanced in your respectful interactions with others? Join in the conversation!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book mentioned above for free as part of the book launch. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

Latest posts by Jon Mertz (see all)

Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Joel says:

    Respect is the foundation that everything is built on. Without it, things will eventually crumble. This includes Self-Esteem.

    I have personally watched business after business fail and fall to the ground because the members within didn’t respect one another like they should.

    A business without respect is like taking slow poison. It seems like a minor inconvenience at first, but slowly over time, it becomes much more.

    Thanks for the post, Jon. Was happy to stumble here 3 years later.

    • Jon Mertz says:

      Thank you, Joel, for stumbling in to find this post! You are so right. Respect is a principle that empowers a business. Without it, everything crumbles over time. We need to ensure respect is centered and applied every day in our organizations. Thank you for your comment and insight! Jon

  • […] The Role of Self-Esteem in Respect and Leadership by Jon Mertz. Key quote: “Respect is core to relationships. It should drive esteem in ourselves and in others. Respect translates to trust… With solid respect and engaging trust, leaders lead with greater meaning and results.” […]

  • Dan Black says:

    This is such an important topic! I like how you showed that respect produces trust. Leaders should verbalize the respect and care they have for those on the team. When they do they will see that they are cared about and valued.

  • Terri Klass says:

    I am looking forward to picking up this book, Jon. I agree that respect is essential for any relationship to endure and critical as the foundation of any workplace. I also think that when we are respectful, a culture of accountability and trust evolve.
    Thanks! Terri

  • Paul Meshanko says:

    Jon, thank you for such a thoughtful review of my book…I sincerely appreciate it!

  • Let's Grow Leaders says:

    Looks like a great read. It’s so important for respect to start at the top. Execs set the stage for creating a culture of respect. Some great insights here. thanks.

  • Respect starts with self, before it can be extended to others. If we feel insecure or jealous, we project these feelings of inadequacies on others. So, it’s important for us to become aware of our insecurities and realize that we can’t be all things to all people. Cultivating self-esteem is about becoming comfortable with what we don’t know/aren’t good at, as much as celebrating what we do know/excel in. When we can have that kind of healthy acceptance of and respect for ourselves, we can see others in their own right and respect their strengths and weaknesses. Good topic, Jon.

    • Jon M says:

      Great points and insights, Alice. Agree. Respect starts with self. We need to embrace self-esteem. As noted, I think that was one of the key ideas I got from the book, along with the practices to develop a good sense of self-esteem. Thanks for adding your perspective to the conversation! Jon

  • Samantha Hall says:

    Another thought provoking post Jon! Sounds like the book had some wonderful insights on respect and highlighting just how important it is. As a culture, respect is something we seem to spend a great deal of time talking about, yet less time delivering it. (as a whole…not that there aren’t respectful people anywhere! : )

    How else do we or should we define respect?

    How do we become more conscious of the ways we are disrespectful to one another?

    How can we honor different variations in respect based on personal preferences?

    Just some additional questions that came to mind since it’s one of those important terms right up there with the trust issue! : )

    Thanks again for sharing another great post.

    • Jon M says:

      Thank you, Samantha, for asking some great questions! Empathy seems to be an answer to many of your questions. Empathy is an under-utilized leadership principle yet it is central to being a great leader who leads with trust and respect. Empathy can be learned, I believe, as well as how it can be used to be a better leader. Maybe this is where we need to begin in answering your key questions….. Thanks! Jon

Leave a Reply