By Jim Wong, CPA | May 12, 2014

Just earning a Director of Finance or Director of Information Technology title isn’t enough to automatically grant you respect. If you fail to earn the respect of your subordinates and your peers early on, it’s difficult to move past simply managing to truly leading.

But, what are the factors that can get in the way of being respected by your fellow accountants or IT professionals, and subordinates? According to a article, How to Get More Respect As A Manager, sometimes a leader fails to gain respect because he or she lacks important leadership skills, rules by fear, or plays favorites.

If you’re in any of those categories, it might be a good idea to overhaul your management style.

However, other times, the problems aren’t necessarily your fault as a new leader. A lack of respect can come from simply being new to the company and unaware of the finer points of its culture.

But even though it may take a while, there are some steps you can take to ensure you’re on the right path to gaining the respect of your team.

Executive coach Bob Lee gives tips in the aforementioned Forbes article. Here are a few of my favorites:

Show Respect 
It’s incredibly important to give respect if you want to get respect. Be sure to acknowledge the contributions of your team members — all of them. Avoid micromanaging, and always treat your team like adults. Endowing trust in people can be a powerful motivator. Everyone wants to prove they are worthy of that trust and respect — just like you.

Listening to what your team is saying is one of the most important skills you can employ in life, and it’s absolutely essential for good managers. “Always listen, listen, listen to what the employees have to say,” lsays Lee. “Really hear what your team is telling you, and be sure to respond to any issues or concerns they may have.”

Give Credit Where It’s Due
It may be tempting to take credit for work your team has done. After all, it’s your team. But, your team will respect you more if you give them credit where credit’s due. And, senior leadership will notice, and appreciate, how well you support your team.

Praise Publicly, Punish Privately
A critical eye tends to be second nature for finance, accounting, and IT professionals. Throw in a finance, accounting, or IT person in a leadership position and that eye for detail is taken to a whole new level. However, it’s important to hold back on criticizing every aspect of a situation or project when you’re in public, and instead focus on the positive. Thank your team and show appreciation in front of others for the work that they’ve done. If you have to criticize, do it privately, and fairly.

Be Accessible
None of your subordinates or fellow accounting, finance, or IT professionals wants to see a closed door. It comes off as if you’re unwelcoming and unapproachable. In fact, Lee says, “This should be more than just leaving your door open. Don’t act inconvenienced if people drop by to talk to you or email you in the evening or on a weekend. Make sure they know you always have time for them.”

Not that you necessarily have to ‘be friends’ with everyone on your staff, but you don’t need to rule with an iron fist either. Find that sweet spot between leading and treating your teams with the respect they deserve, and you will have a loyal team who returns the respect and goes the distance for you.

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