How To Lead By Treating Others With Dignity


In their new book, Millennials Who Manage, authors Chip Espinoza and Joel Schwarzbart, quote Donna Hicks's explanation about how dignity is different from respect.


  • Dignity is different from respect in that it is not based on how people perform, what they can do for us, or their likability. Dignity is a feeling of inherent value and worth.

Therefore, Espinoza and Schwarzbart recommend that leaders treat those they are leading with dignity and follow Hick's 10 Essential Elements of Dignity:

  1. Acceptance of Identity - Approach people as being neither inferior nor superior to you. Assume that others have integrity.
  2. Inclusion - Make others feel that they belong, whatever the relationship.
  3. Safety - Put people at ease at two levels: physically, so they feel safe from bodily harm, and psychologically, so they feel safe from being humiliated.
  4. Acknowledgment - Give people your full attention by listening, hearing, validating, and responding to their concerns, feelings, and experiences.
  5. Recognition - Validate others for their talents, hard work, thoughtfulness and help. Be generous with praise and show appreciation and gratitude to others for their contributions and ideas.
  6. Fairness - Treat people justly, with equality, and in an evenhanded way.
  7. Benefit of Doubt - Treat people as trustworthy. Start with the premise that others have good motives and are acting with integrity.
  8. Understanding - Believe that what others think matters. Give them a chance to explain and express their points of view. Actively listen in order to understand them.
  9. Independence - Encourage people to act on their own behalf so that they feel in control of their lives and experience a sense of hope and possibility.
  10. Accountability - Take responsibility for your actions. If you have violated the dignity of another person, apologize. Make a commitment to change your hurtful behaviors.

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