Erica Pinsky



Modeling Respectful Leadership

One of the highlights of my week is tuning in to watch the Mercer Report. In these days of doom and gloom, it's a relief to have an opportunity to laugh. Rick never disappoints in that department.


Last week, Rick's rant focused on US President Obama's recent visit to Canada. He talked about how President Obama seemed to bring out the best in our politicians. According to Rick, Prime Minister Harper "never stopped smiling. He never broke out the dead eye stare once." Prime Minister Harper even said that it was former US President Bush that had been preventing him from fighting climate change. Michael Ignatieff, newly appointed leader of the Liberal party, invited his former political rival for that position, Bob Rae, to join him in his 15 minute meeting with President Obama, a move Mercer described as "classy."


One of the main themes in my new book, Road to Respect: Path to Profit, is how leaders who are interested in creating a respectful workplace MUST walk the talk of respect. What we witnessed in President Obama's recent visit affirms why this is so critically important. It is about leading by example and modeling the behaviour we want others to adopt.


President Obama embodies respectful leadership. He models inclusion and collaboration. He chooses candidates on the basis of their skills and experiences, not just their political allegiances. He demonstrates accountability and responsibility, and publicly acknowledges when he has made a mistake. He is not afraid to be honest and direct about how bad things are, yet inspires hope. He offers a values based vision that appeals to a wide range of individuals; "what free men and women can achieve when imagination is tied to common purpose."


In the workplace, employees take their cues from their leaders. Leaders set the tone that creates the culture. If they act in an honest, forthright and respectful way, chances are staff will too. If leaders choose to believe the best about their teams, people prove them right.


What do you believe about those you work with, and those you lead? How are those beliefs influencing your behaviour? We can all choose to follow the example of President Obama, and act in a manner that brings out the best in ourselves and others. Where is the downside in that?


"This easy to read book paints a clear and vivid picture of what the many facets of respect looks like in a thriving organization.  Through numerous ‘respectful practices’ we are not just told, but shown how to move toward a culture where respect is a living core value and success and profitability are the outcomes.  It is the “roadmap” to respect and path to profit."

Mike Desjardins
One of Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 Under 40