Few young teens have gained respect from world leaders, educators, and students around the world like this young girl in a burqa. From the tender age of 11, Malala who is known mainly by just her first name, bravely stood up for her right to be educated. At a time when the Taliban was attacking girls’ schools in Pakistan and ordering them to be closed, Malala began writing a blog for the BBC under a pseudonym.
Over time, her name was revealed, but she did not stop speaking up. Eventually, the Taliban lifted the ban on the education of girls, but they continued to threaten Malala and her family over the radio, the internet, and in letters addressed to her home. She never thought they would actually harm a young girl, but she did worry about her father.
Malala was 15 years old on October 9, 2012 when her small school bus was stopped by three masked men. One of the men entered the back of the bus and asked, “Who is Malala?” Her classmates looked at her then at the gunman, innocently giving away her identity. The young gunman, just a college student himself, shot Malala hitting her three times with one of the bullets going through her forehead and lodging in her spine.
Her recovery was long and uncertain, but on her 16th birthday she triumphantly spoke at the U.N. for the first time publicly after the attack. She addressed 500 youth education advocates from around the globe that respected her courage and were inspired by her commitment.
The voice of the girl whom the Taliban tried to silence a year before had been amplified beyond what anyone could have thought possible.
When asked what she thinks the militants achieved that day, she smiled and said, “I think they may be regretting that they shot Malala. Now she is heard in every corner of the world.”
The 7th of The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is the Law of Respect, it states:
People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves.
Raised in a country where young women are often kept in the shadows and told to remain quiet, Malala spoke up. Even with a bullet to the face, Malala showed great strength in leadership and has become a beacon of hope for many that follow and support her cause.
Today Malala says she still thinks of what she would say if ever faced with another encounter with the Taliban. She resolutely comments that she would tell them how important education is and that she even wants it for their children. Then she would say, “that is all I have to say, now do what you want.”
With her courage, she has raised awareness around the world. World leaders have taken note, she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and she has given priceless hope to thousands of young girls with dreams of education in Pakistan.
Leadership is INFLUENCE, nothing more, nothing less. By standing up with unyielding courage for what she believes in she has exerted tremendous influence.
As leaders we are in the business of creating influence and lasting change in the lives of those we lead. Whether you are a coach, a teacher, a CEO, a manager or a parent. Consider your own leadership abilities and note whether or not those that you lead truly respect you. As a leader, how can you increase the level of respect you earn from those you lead?
Maxwell gives us six ways that leaders can increase the respect they receive and the effect of their influence:
1. NATURAL LEADERSHIP ABILITY- If you have natural leadership abilities, people will respect that and follow you.
2.RESPECT FOR OTHERS –When leaders show respect for others, it is easy for others to return the behavior.
When people respect you as a person, they admire you
When they respect you as a friend, they love you
When they respect you as a leader, they follow you
3. COURAGE – A leader’s courage has great value: it gives followers hope.
“A leader does not deserve the name unless he is willing to occasionally stand alone.” – Henry Kissinger
4. SUCCESS– A leaders success is important because people will follow to be part of it in the future.
5. LOYALTY – When a leader remains loyal, even during difficult times, followers will respect them and their actions.
6. VALUE ADDED TO OTHERS – You can be sure that followers value leaders that add value to them.
You may currently be in a leadership role because you were hired to fill a position and lead a group of people or students. Maybe you are a leader because over time your actions naturally earned the respect of those around you and as a result, you were awarded with their loyalty. Either way, pay attention to how your actions convey respect to those above you and how you earn the respect of those below you. Without respect, a leader is only a manager.
Always treat those that respect you with equal respect. They will respond in kind. Even young children and teens crave respect. Remember it may take years to build up the respect level of great leaders, and beware it can be washed away with one small event.
For me, the definition of success is having the respect of those closest to me. If my family (those who know me best) and my clients and teams (those I work with on a continual basis) have respect for me then I am a success and my leadership will be effective.
I personally plan to continually gauge myself on the six qualities of a respected leader listed above and work to raise my leadership level. Will you join me?