Etiquette Applied to Leadership

Leadership Etiquette

Nathalie Andraos-Founder & Managing Director @ 11 MINUTES for Etiquette Consultancy & Training

Nowadays more than ever, women are occupying leadership positions at work or in committees. When in a Leadership position, you definitely have some skills and traits that people look up to. It’s no coincidence that you may be a role model for others, and you probably apply many etiquette rules throughout your life, unknowingly even.

Proper etiquette is essential if you want to continue to be respected and followed. The key to being a successful leader is to take the focus off yourself and turn it to the people you are counting on to work with you.

Here are a few etiquette rules to keep in mind in order to polish your image as a leader:

Be Presentable

According to studies, it only takes 10 seconds to make a first impression, and it better be a good one because you may not have another chance. So, for that purpose, dress for the position you hold. Make sure you are well groomed at all times and avoid wearing anything too flashy or anything with exaggeration. If you aren’t sure that this dress or that piece of jewelry is appropriate, it probably isn’t.

Be Prepared

When you are conducting a meeting, be prepared with an agenda and back up information. No one wants to waste time while you go through your cards or documents during the presentation. Research the topic so you can have answers to likely questions.

Be Courteous

The people you are leading look up to you and are likely to mimic your style. You should always be polite and kind to everyone. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t be assertive. You don’t have to be best friends with anyone, but people around you should feel comfortable discussing whatever is needed to get the job done.

Be Timely

You know the saying “Time is money”, and by respecting other people’s time you will more likely gain their trust. When you walk in half an hour after the scheduled time of the meeting, you risk losing the respect of your team because they’ll feel that you don’t appreciate them or, even worse, that you are unorganized. Showing up on time lets others know that you respect them and you are responsible, which ,in turn, will bring you the respect you need for your position.

Show your Interest

Get to know the people on your team by striking up conversations. When people feel that you like them for who they are outside of work, they’re more likely to feel a sense of belonging to the team. If you aren’t sure what to say, practice through engaging in small talks with friends outside of your leadership role and keep a few conversation starters in mind.

Be Attentive

When you are responsible of a group of people in any kind of tasks, you’ll gain more respect if you give them your full attention. You need to practice active listening, and always hear their opinions. Sometimes, you might be surprised with how inspired you can be by their ideas. Thank them anyway for their input, even if they weren’t helpful or you don’t agree with the thought.

Be a Conflict Resolver

When you have a group of people working on the same task, opinions are more likely to differ. Give each side an opportunity to present their case and discuss how they came to their conclusion. Try to find common grounds. As a leader, however, sometimes you see things others don’t, so if you find yourself in a position where you must take a decision that isn’t popular, let others know that you are responsible for the results in a nonthreatening and confident manner. In case your judgment brings a negative result, be prepared to offer a sincere apology and learn from your mistake. As John Maxwell once said:

“You must be big enough to admit your mistakes, smart enough to learn from them, and strong enough to correct them”.

Be Discrete

Leaders need to have discretion in all matters from above and below on the corporate personnel chart. If you were entrusted with a company secret, don’t be the one who leaks the information. When your team has a heated discussion, keep it among those who are present. Your boss does not need to know that you had a near-knockdown fight while working on the project. The more discrete you are, the more others will put their trust in you.

Give Feedback

You need to provide feedback in both directions – to your team and to those who have trusted you with this leadership position. That doesn’t mean you should share the nitty gritty details. The information should be as matter-of-fact and straight to the point, as it relates to the job.

Give Credit

When someone goes beyond what is required or spends extra hours on a task, acknowledge their commitment to the job. Send an email to that person and copy it to your superior. The team member will appreciate it and respect you all the more for not trying to take credit for their ideas or accomplishments.

For many, the word “Etiquette” might sound unrealistic and they may think it’s far from Leadership concept, but as Jim Rohn says: “The Challenge of Leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly”.


By, Nathalie Andraos, Founder & Managing Director @ 11 MINUTES for Etiquette Consultancy & Training.


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