Disrespect between team members can undermine morale and the goodwill to speak candidly about critical issues. Over time, team members can lose respect from their peers when they consistently underperform or demonstrate poor judgment, among other displays of incompetence. Character issues can also come into play when a team member’s choices are questioned by others and integrity is seen as suspect. Convincing team members to accept the flaws and foibles of their peers might work for mild resentments. But it’s not a realistic strategy for dealing with disrespect.
Once disrespect for a particular team member is widely shared, peers are often bewildered as to why the leader doesn’t dispense with someone they see as less competent or challenged by the truth. Having to tolerate a colleague deemed unworthy of the team brings out the worst in team interaction. For the team leader, this can produce a challenging team dynamic. Once disrespect has festered, it is nearly impossible to repair. It may even be too late to salvage the team member and the good qualities they have to offer.
The best leaders understand that everyone on a team can be judged too harshly at times by their peers for actions and choices that are imperfect. Disrespect begins to form when the leader has not held up the positive qualities of the team member for others to see. This is precisely what the best leaders do intentionally.
By praising the valuable attributes and actions of a team member when they are not present, either in a group or individual conversations, leaders make the case for why peers should overlook minor flaws and hold other qualities higher. This ongoing praise for every team member enables them to withstand the assault of judgment by their peers. This interrupts disrespect before it can take a hold of the narrative surrounding any team member. Have I told you lately how much I value your colleagues for what they bring to our team?