You don’t have to like your team

Photo fo a hand writing RESPECT in blue markerIt’s not a requirement to like your team.

But you do have to respect them.

They’re on your team for a reason. Whether you hired them, or someone else did and you inherited them, they’ve been considered appropriate for the job.

If that’s not the case – if they’re not meeting expectations for the role they need to fill and the tasks they need to do – then you need to address that.  (I wrote about this on LinkedIn recently, and you can download a Performance Improvement Plan checklist here.)

So, yes, you need to respect them. Whether or not they are performing.

I know some of you are thinking … but what if they haven’t earned my respect?

I don’t believe anyone has to “earn” respect. Respect comes simply by virtue of being a human being.

Do I respect everyone I’ve ever met or known about?

Okay. Now you’re putting me on the spot, and I have to say – no. There are people whose behavior I consider to be so egregiously bad – dishonest, unethical, mean – that I do not respect them.

But I would never in a million years allow those people to be on, or stay on, my team.

Have I always liked the people I worked with, whether colleagues or direct reports? Nope. Of course not. Different people have different personalities, values, and approaches to life. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t respect them.

People respond to respect. You’ll get more respect from someone if you start out treating them with respect. Respect is the first step in building a true team, where everyone collaborates and cares for everyone else. Respect means ideas are listened to, concerns are considered, and no one is shamed, belittled, or disregarded.

In short, respect is the first requirement of psychological safety and high-performing teams.

(Also, anyone else now have an Aretha Franklin R-E-S-P-E-C-T earworm? Or have I hopelessly dated myself in asking that?)


Understanding how to lead is NOT instinctive or easy. When we promote people out of individual teamwork into management and leadership, we need to support them in crossing the very real, and very large, skills gap. Medium-sized companies in particular rely on their first-line and mid-level managers for success – so it’s even more important to offer that support. Let’s talk about what that would mean for your company.