Written by Christina Kanu (@MissKanu)



As I consult with different clients or have casual conversations this topic always comes up. People often tell me that they do not feel respected as a leader.

I think people often confuse the word respect and like when it comes to leadership. As a leader it is often that you will not always be liked. A leader should strive for respect and not a fluffy term such as like.

Most of the reasons a person does not “like” a person as a leader is because of personal issues that are not relevant to the mission at hand. When I was in college I observed this quite often. It was childish and petty.

Respect takes time. As a leader you cannot expect for everyone to just automatically respect you. Unless you have earned their respect or been in leadership for awhile it will not automatically happen.

Below I have outlined a few tips to gaining respect as a leader.

Lead By Example

As a leader you cannot tell those you lead to do anything that you would not do. A good leader is always in the trenches with their soldiers. If your team is doing community service you need to do it too. If your team has to attend an event you should be at the event too. Of course the higher you go in ranks you will be extremely busy and cannot attend EVERYTHING. But the standard should always be set that you do not let your title excuse you from certain activities.


People always say they want a leader with good character. Of course all leaders are human and they make mistake. That does not mean that you get a pass to make a mistake every single day. Try to exercise good character in all that you do. Think before you act in almost every situation. It can be tough at times but as a leader you are automatically held to a higher standard.

Social Life

This is a tricky one especially for collegiate leaders. Be very mindful of what you do and who you socialize with. Until people are very mature they cannot separate you as a leader and you as who you are on weekends. As I stated earlier, you are held to a higher standard as a leader. Even if it is the weekend certain behaviors are not acceptable.

Take time to Listen

Sometimes leaders do more talking then listening. Sometimes you have to tell yourself to shut up and listen. Be adamant about having an open door policy. People should be able to come to you via telephone, email, or in person. The people you lead should always be able to tell you how they feel. If you do not have an open door policy then they will critique you and you will never receive those critiques. Even if you cannot fix every problem then at least take the time to listen.

Stop Trying to be the Prom Queen/King AND a Leader at the same time

Everyone will not like you. As I stated before most of the reasons have nothing to do with anything. That cannot stop you from your goal. When I was in college there were decisions I had to make as a leader. Some of those things did not make people happy all the time. But I was doing what was best long term and for the group. It is very dangerous to be a “people pleaser” as a leader. As a leader you must think rationally. If you are more concerned with being invited to every social event as opposed to doing the right thing then reevaluate why you want to be a leader.


These are just a few examples. I hope this was helpful. If this is an area that you struggle with contact me at info@christinakanu.com for a consultation.

Photo Credits: Featured Image Jesse Mills and Mills Branding

Got Respect Image: Careers in Government