The Respectful Leader: Seven Ways to Influence Without Intimidation, by Gregg Ward (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, 2016, 130 pages).
Book Review by Dennis Moore
October 6, 2016 (San Diego) - Ironically and coming at a time when Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has been called before the Senate Banking Committee to account for his actions and those of the bank, along with intemperate and disrespectful actions of numerous other business leaders, Gregg Ward, CEO of the Gregg Ward Group, a management consulting, training and coaching firm that focuses on helping leaders develop their Respectful Leadership, has written a timely book; The Respectful Leader: Seven Ways to Influence Without Intimidation.
Ward is also the author of Bad Behavior, People Problems & Sticky Situations: A Toolbook for Managers and Team Leaders. The overall theme of this well written and insightful book is gaining and giving respect in the business world. As a matter of fact, throughout the book the author gives poignant examples of gaining and giving respect from an executive management viewpoint, such as; “RespectfulDo #1 – Be the first to respect. Don’t wait to be treated with respect before being respectful. Be the first to treat everyone you meet, even perfect strangers, with respect.”
Written with Walter G. Meyer, Gregg Ward – acclaimed leadership consultant, speaker, and executive coach – introduces Des Hogan, a brand-new CEO who discovers that disrespectful behavior on the part of his leadership team is quickly eating away at his company’s morale, sales, and profits. In the middle of a meltdown, Des is confronted by Grace – a straight-shooting, self-described “little old lady” in the maintenance department who refuses to tolerate disrespect.
In this fictional business tale by Ward, which he refers to as “A Business Fable”, he demonstrates common sense behavior in the workplace by leaders to gain respect and engender an environment of trust. Unlike the aforementioned Wells Fargo CEO, whom Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for a criminal investigation of the bank in conjunction with an assessed $185 million fine for corporate malfeasance, The Respectful Leader lays out a plan as to how employees and corporate executives should work together in mutual respect and collaborative effort.
This book is a primer for respect and good behavior in all aspects of life. A prime example is a recent California court case in which a state agency admonished a Los Angeles County judge for mistreating jurors. The Commission on Judicial Performance issued a 34-page admonishment of Superior Court Judge Edmund W. Clarke Jr., who has been on the bench for seven years and works at the downtown criminal courthouse. “The misconduct demonstrates a pattern of discourteous and undignified treatment of jurors,” the commission wrote.
Although not in the business world, this type of disrespect and treatment of others is what the author of The Respectful Leader writes about, and should be exemplified in every aspect of human discourse. The commission said Judge Clarke belittled and mocked four jurors, with the judge specifically stating to one particular juror; “If you came here thinking that this was going to be Disneyland and you were getting an E Ticket and have a good time, I’m afraid you have no sense of what is going on in this building.” The judge did apologize to one particular juror for his behavior, and as a matter of fact, an apology is the cornerstone of Ward’s idea of what the respectful leader should reflect.
Ward demonstrates in his book a number of concepts, tools and techniques to get his point across. Foremost is the art of apologizing. He states that there are actually 7 steps of a full apology, specifically stating; “Bottom Line: The Respectful Leader Makes a Full Apology for Disrespect.”
Perhaps what resonates with me most about Ward’s book, is his “RespectfulDon’t #2. Don’t Tolerate Disrespect”, in which he weaves into the discourse a perspective of the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, by stating: “Unfortunately, too often, when people treat each other with disrespect in the workplace, leaders tolerate it and look the other way. Why? Partly because disrespect is considered by many to be in the eye of the beholder, dependent on our personal biases, preferences, upbringing, experience, tolerance level, and on what each of us consider disrespectful. The point is that there’s no common agreement on what constitutes disrespect. But most decent, reasonable people – like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who was struggling to define obscenity in 1964 – will know it when they see it."
The author has written a book that all business leaders should adhere to, and one that I highly recommend. Ward gives us all food for thought as it regards respect for each other, particularly in the workplace.
Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine and the book review editor of SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine. Mr. Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.