Followers are attracted to people who are better leaders than themselves.

That is the Law of Respect, says @JohnCMaxwell (Bestselling author & speaker on leadership).


Now we could ask:

What causes one person to respect and follow another?

Is it because of the attitude of the leader, his qualities?

Is it due to a process the leader and the followers engage in?

Or does it occur because of special circumstances?

The answer is:

All these factors can come into play.


Here the top 6 ways a leader can gain the respect of other people (according to John C. Maxwell):


1.) Natural leadership ability

There are leaders who are born with greater skills and abilities than others.

But that is not a problem.

We should know, that every person can become a better leader.

That is certainly a good news.

Additionally we should learn that talent alone is not enough.

A natural leader is someone people want to follow.

They want to be around him and want to listen to him.

He can inspire others.


When people respect you as a person, they admire you. When they respect you as a friend, they love you. When they respect you as a leader, they follow you. (John C. Maxwell)


2.) Respect for others

Good leaders rely on respect – they show respect for others, even when the other person has less power or a lower position.

If you continually respect others and consistently lead them with respect, people will respect you and will follow you.


3.) Courage

Good leaders do what is right – they are willing occasionally to stand alone.

They don’t fear failure and criticism.

A leader’s courage gives followers hope.


4.) Success

It is a fact, that people respect those with success.

They respect other’s accomplishments.

When leaders are successful, people will respect them.

Followers follow leaders with success, because they want to be a part of success in the future.


5.) Loyalty

When leaders stick with the team until the job is done, remain loyal to the organization and the people, even in bad times, followers respect them.


6.) Adding value

A good leader adds value to others.

And followers value these leaders.

They respect them.


I, personally, would add some points here:


7.) Credibility

A good leader must be credible to be seen as trustworthy.

Credibility is not the same thing as being likable.

There are 4 elements of credibility:


  • Integrity (According to researchers Kouzes and Posner, the number one trait people are looking for in a leader is honesty.)

To boost your credibility with regard to integrity, consider the following:

  • Clarify your values and examin your behavior in light of them
  • Make a commitment to consistently tell the truth
  • Put weight on ethical behavior
  • If you make a mistake, be truthful about it
  • Give credit to colleagues and subordinates for their work


  • Competence (Experts enjoy a much higher degree of credibility than those who lack expertise. We rely more on people who can demonstrate expertise. Expertise comes from a blend of a person’s education and experience).

To boost your credibility with regard to competence, consider the following:

  • If needed, invest time in a better education
  • Obtain a license to practice or a professional certification appropriate to your field
  • Participate in meetings, ask probing questions and make insightful comments
  • Attend conferences in your field
  • Engage in continual learning


  • Sound judgment (A credible person can be counted on to analyze complex situations, ask intelligent questions, and make good decisions. A person who has a sound judgment usually has  cognitive and intuitive gifts.  This person takes a big-picture rather than a myopic view and a long-term rather than a short-term perspective.)

To boost your credibility with regard to sound judgment, take the following actions:

  • Consider the impact of your decisions on other departments and groups
  • Ask others for input into your decisions
  • Avoid too quick judgments
  • Be willing to admit mistakes
  • Read good books and listen to tapes by management and relationship specialists
  • Stay current on the present trends within your industry and company


  • Relationally sensitive (Emotional Intelligence and Empathy) (People with high credibility know how to ask questions about our values and interests, they listen intently and with empathy. They have a high emotional intelligence. They can be trusted to listen and to work in the best interests of others.)

To boost your credibility with regard to be relationally sensitive, consider the following:

  • Be willing to learn from others and from your own mistakes
  • Demonstrate concern for others’ values, goals, interests and objectives
  • Learn to listen well
  • Take time to build effective relationships with informal conversations
  • Don’t talk behind a person’s back
  • Be generous with credit to colleagues and subordinates
  • Take time to understand other people’s point of view




Credibility is a package. No single element alone described here can guarantee you high perceived credibility.

People assign you a certain degree of credibility based on how they rate you on the interaction of theses elements of credibility: 

integrity, expertise, sound judgment, and relationship sensitivity

Remember, too, that your credibility is based on observed behavior, not on your intentions.


7.) Authenticity

We don’t like or trust people who come across as phony and false.

Thus, we avoid such people.

We seek friends and colleagues who are authentic.

Authenticity is important, but what exactly do we mean by the term?

Authentic people possess these qualities:

  1. Have realistic perceptions of reality.
  2. Are accepting themselves and other people.
  3. Are thoughtful.
  4. Are able to express their emotions freely and clearly.
  5. Are open to learning from their mistakes.
  6. Understand their motivations.
  7. Don’t present themselves in a false way.
  8. They don’t play a role.
  9. They don’t look for other people’s approval.




Respect is the first step to trust.

Without respect you will have no success.


Respect is based upon

1.) Having special leadership qualities

2.) Respect for others

3.) Having courage

4.) Success

5.) Loyalty

6.) Adding value

7.) Credibility (integrity, expertise, sound judgment, and relationship sensitivity)

8.) Authenticity


Likability is subjective, people often like people who are similar to themselves, or have a certain charisma.

Being likable or popular does not always earn you respect.

Trust starts with respecting.

There are differences between likability vs. respect. vs. trust.


( Sources:

Book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell

What is Credibility and Why Do You NEED to Care – on blog of Bonnie Budzowski )



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