Team Elements – Respect: Humility, Development, Compassion

by Ron Potter

Teams are at the heart of great performance, great happiness, and the best memories.  These blogs are built on the 4 Levels of Happiness by Aristotle.  In his framework, Aristotle says that the highest level of happiness will be achieved at Level 4.  In describing Level 4 Happiness, Aristotle Used five words:

  • Truth
  • Love
  • Purpose
  • Beauty
  • Unity

Love (Respect)

The Greeks had several words that are all translated into the English word “love.”  The Greek word for Love that Aristotle used had nothing to do with emotions or the feeling of love that we have for another person.  This word referred to treating the other person with respect.  It’s about what we do, not how we feel.

As human beings, we seem to have an innate sense that someone respects us or not.  Great teams require great respect (love) for each other.

In unpacking the concept of Respect (or love), we will look at the following concepts over the next couple of posts:

  • Three elements of building Trust: Humility, Development, Compassion
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Envy
  • Anger
  • Grudges

In our last post, we looked at Psychological Safety (both Truth and Respect being at their highest level).  Research has indicated that Psychological Safety is one of the best indicators of high team performance.

This post will start a series digging deeper into the concept of Respect.  How do we define it?  How do we use it?

Humility, Development, and Compassion

These are three of the eight concepts that we learn from my book, Trust Me are present with great leadership.  Let’s look at each one and see how they relate to Respect.


When someone does not demonstrate humility, it’s hard to believe they have respect for others.  Lack of humility becomes self-focused.  When someone is self-focused, they are not “other” focused.  Humility means that I have an interest in your opinion.  Steven Covey listed one of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as “Seek to understand first before being understood.”  When someone wants to know what I think before sharing with me what they think, I feel respected.  I feel like my opinion counts.  I’m more interested in their opinion because they were interested in my opinion first.  I feel respected.


When a leader believes it’s worth their time to grow and develop me, I feel respected.  Leaders dedicated to development will provide straight and meaningful feedback.

I once worked with a client who told me their boss was a wonderful person, always positive and encouraging but not very useful.  They went on to explain that all of their performance reviews were great with nothing but good feedback.  However, it gave them nothing to work with.  There were no suggestions for growth or betterment.  Therefore, it just wasn’t very useful.

Positive Development means straightforward feedback about what’s working and what is not working with suggestions for development and follow-up on efforts.  Taking the time to develop people demonstrates respect.


I would often get negative comments about this topic when we first published Trust Me.  Many managers would express the sentiment that they were not running a charitable organization; they were running a business and business was rough and tumble, not soft and cushy!

I started dealing with this question by asking these rough and tumble leaders about their doctors.  Did they like doctors that looked at the lab results only and treated them as numbers on a graph or did they like doctors that related to them as human beings first and then talked to them about how the clinical numbers might be affecting their quality of life.  They all like doctors who were professionally competent but treated them as human beings first and foremost.  The same is true with your teammates.

You want a teammate who tells it to you straight but knows you as a human being first.  We are not motivated or encouraged by people who treat us as a human ‘doing’ (relating to what we do rather than who we are) rather than a human being.  If we’re treated as human beings (which means we’re respected) first, we are much more likely to respond to our fullest.

Patience, Kindness, Envy, Anger, and Grudges.

These are concepts that we’ll look at in our next post about Respect.

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