Bad bosses might demand respect, but true leaders make it their mission to earn it.

That’s because bosses like to talk about how great they are.

They blame problems on their teams and take credit for successes that have little to do with them. Leaders, on the other hand, push their teams from the back instead of leading from the front.

They take responsibility no matter the circumstances.

The world has a lot more bosses than leaders, though. Gallup found that only 18 percent of current managers possess the talent necessary for their roles.

I don’t want people to accept my leadership because I’m placed in a certain position.

Instead, I want to give them a list of reasons to respect me.

If my leadership style doesn’t merit respect, it’s not because my team has chosen to be disrespectful — it’s because I haven’t truly earned it.

What is the Difference between Command and Demand?

The terms “command” and “demand” both involve the expression of a desire or requirement, but they differ in context, tone, and implications:

Command

  • Authority and Expectation: A command is typically given by someone in a position of authority (like a military officer, employer, or teacher) and carries an expectation of compliance. It is often associated with structured environments where hierarchy and obedience are emphasized.
  • Context: Commands are common in military, workplace, or other institutional settings where clear and direct instructions are necessary for operations.
  • Tone: The tone of a command is usually direct and authoritative, leaving little room for negotiation or refusal.
  • Example: A police officer telling someone to stop, or a manager instructing an employee to complete a task by a certain deadline.

Demand

  • Expectation and Forcefulness: A demand, while also expressing a strong desire or requirement, can be seen as more forceful or insistent. It is not necessarily tied to a position of authority and can be made by anyone.
  • Context: Demands are often seen in negotiations, protests, or situations where there is a need or expectation for something to be provided or changed. It can be used in personal, social, or political contexts.
  • Tone: The tone of a demand can be assertive and can imply consequences if the demand is not met. It often suggests urgency or importance.
  • Example: A customer insisting on a refund, or protesters demanding policy changes from the government.
  • In summary, a command is generally associated with authority and structured environments, and implies an expectation of obedience, whereas a demand is more about insisting on a particular need or desire, and can be used in a broader range of contexts.

Playing the Leadership Role

Our company recently promoted a great leader, and a part of this promotion included handling extra responsibilities.

He used to manage one small group, but he now has the responsibility of managing two groups simultaneously.

The original group missed his constant presence at first, and members wondered whether he would continue to give them the same consideration he had before the switch.

They kept faith in their old leader, though, and he has rewarded them with his continued support.

This manager understands what many who rise through the ranks forget: Time spent together is essential.

Leaders who fail to spend time with their teams inevitably lose the loyalty of the people who work for them. And if the boss doesn’t make time for the group, the group won’t see the boss as a person worthy of respect.

The 6 Traits of A True Leader

As important as togetherness is, though, it isn’t the only consideration.The best leaders exhibit a variety of traits that help them command respect from their teams.

1. Respectful preparation

Smart leaders respect the time of the people around them.

They are never unprepared for a meeting or uneducated on the subject at hand.

Although a bad boss might call a meeting and expect an employee to provide all of the context, a good leader does the necessary legwork and comes to the table ready to collaborate, not demand.

2. Thoughtful responsiveness

Although they seem similar at first glance, reactiveness and responsiveness are not the same.

Reactive bosses scold employees and issue orders without considering context.

Responsive leaders, however, put emotion to the side. They understand that their employees work hard and deserve to be treated with respect in every conversation. Leaders own their emotions — not the other way around.

3. Quiet confidence

People who brag usually have deeper insecurities to deal with.

The best leaders don’t have to strut; they know they’re good at what they do, and their actions prove it.

Managers who don’t feel comfortable in their roles must project confidence without arrogance — even if they feel nervous — to give their teams an example to follow.

4. Lasting gratitude

I almost never take credit for things our team accomplishes.

Whenever someone praises our work, I always point the finger at the people on the team who pulled levers or contributed in various ways.

This doesn’t just make the team feel appreciated; it also demonstrates that I pay attention to their work and acknowledge their contributions.

When something goes wrong, I take that conversation behind closed doors and provide specifics about how I’d like to see the situation handled next time.

5. Authentic empathy

Most CEOs believe their organizations exhibit the proper amount of empathy, but far fewer employees say the same.

The best leaders don’t just claim to understand the burdens of their employees and go about business as usual. They take the time to listen to employee concerns and make changes where they can.

By putting people over results at least some of the time, leaders prove to employees that they see value beyond productivity metrics.

6. Reliable presence

When I’m not in the office, I’m a phantom.

When I’m there, though, I’m fully present (as all good leaders should be).

Employees don’t need bosses who only come to work long enough to close their office doors. They need leaders who set a good example of work-life balance and are approachable during business hours.

Conclusion

Great leaders who command respect don’t just oversee extremely productive teams.

The vast majority of employees say they need great leaders to enjoy higher levels of satisfaction at work, and this also leads to benefits like lower turnover and higher engagement.

That is what you can achieve by simply understanding the difference between demand vs command.

Besides this, a mere 15 percent of U.S. workers say their leaders make them excited for what the future holds. With so many bad bosses in the world today, leaders who do right by their teams are more valuable than ever before.

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Read more: How to Speak Like a Leader: Advice From America’s Top Vocal Coach

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