It’s time to bid on your schedule at work. You know the drill: RHIP baby. Rank Hath Its Privilege.

“Hey man, I paid my dues; I get whatever shift I want. When you have seniority you get to do that, too.”

Or perhaps your version is more literally an issue of rank: You now have the title/position/authority.  You’ve waited years to get here. You’ve worked your ass off and now, damn it, it’s going to be your way.  “The right way.” It’s your time to tell, not ask.

Or maybe it’s not that aggressive. Perhaps, that’s just your understanding, however subconscious it may be. You’re the boss now, so people adapt to you, not the other way around. Right? 

Not really.

The opportunity of leadership isn’t actually about getting your way. It’s not about payback for time served, or an obligation to behave like a boss. No one likes ‘bossy’ people.

The opportunity of leadership is the chance to met people where they are. To treat them the way they want to be treated.  

What does that mean, exactly?

Nearly 30 years ago Gary Chapman wrote a book on just that: The 5 Love Languages, aka the five ways we both express and experience love. The thing is, in any given relationship the way one person expresses love may not be the way their partner desires to experience being loved. If I love doing acts of service for my partner, but she needs and wants words of affirmation, I will forever miss the mark. The same is true for work, though it took 20 years before they applied the same logic to the workplace. Now they call it appreciation instead of love.

As leaders, we have a real and genuine opportunity to appreciate people. Unfortunately, this is one of the primary failings of leaders overall. I’d be rich if I had a dollar every time a leader said, “Appreciation is not my job; my appreciation is shown by letting them have a job.” I’m sorry, but no. No, it’s not. We forget as leaders that it’s not about us — that’s the paradox. It’s about our team. If they feel Appreciated, Honored, Valued, Loved…they will engage. Only then can you ask them to follow your lead and have them do so with loyalty. You may get to set direction, make decisions and define the 5-year plan, but you will achieve none of it on your own. Without real appreciation expressed in the language each individual values, maximum performance cannot and will not be achieved or sustained.

So what if you are a peer with seniority bidding on a schedule? The truth is the same. Everyone wants to feel appreciated — by their manager and their peers — and if you’re senior, you have as much responsibility and opportunity to do that as the manager. So how can you sincerely show appreciation for your peers in a way they want to experience it? 

Rank isn’t permission to get your way, it’s the opportunity to treat others they way you wished your senior would have behaved: respectfully, compassionately, and with intentional appreciation.