You Must Be Greater Than Your Title

Some preposterous cultural misconceptions have led certain individuals to think that their professional titles give them some exceptional privileges that they can use to defy the norms, or even to mistreat other people recurrently.

Give extraordinary power to a fool, and you will convert him in the chief danger for the mankind. – Erich Fromm

The title or hierarchical position in a group or organization DOES NOT make any of us superior to any other human beings. Every human, beyond title and position, deserves to be treated with respect.

Respect represents our feeling of esteem for other people. Your respect for other´s appearance, position, abilities, judgments, values, beliefs, gender, sexual condition, morals, etc. will also determine the respect you earn in return.

Respecting others does not mean that you need to agree with their opinion or that they must agree with yours because of your title. All you have to do, is to respect each other indeed.

The University of Berkeley ran a study more than a decade ago about how “The higher the authority given to an individual, the lower the respect he/she would show for other human beings.”

Situation: Three Berkeley students are sent to a room. In the room, there was a table, a tray with four cookies and three chairs.

Positions and authority: Two students will brainstorm for 30 min. And the third student is given the power to evaluate their ideas.

The results: In most cases, the students with a power tended to:

  • Take the fourth cookie without asking.
  • Eat with their mouths open.
  • Leave more crumbs.

We can express our respect for other individuals in many different ways; the most typical forms of respect are communication, conduct, and manners, but what we CAN NEVER DO, is to believe that our title makes us superior to other human beings.

Egotism and power make a very poisoning and dangerous combination.

In the lines below I will use some brief quotes to emphasize ten things that your title DOES NOT give you the right to do.

# 1. Abuse.

You never know what burdens people bear or what they are going through. You may have power to lift their spirits or break them. Treat people with kindness. – Nishan Panwar

# 2. Interrupt.

There cannot be greater rudeness than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse. Your title does not make you wiser than anyone else. – John Locke

# 3. Impose.

We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path – Paul Cohelo

# 4. Insult.

We can insult others in many different ways. You don’t have to disrespect and insult others simply to hold your own ground. If you do, that shows how shaky your own position is. – Red Haircrow

# 5. Lie.

We tell lies when we are afraid… afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing, that we fear, grows stronger. -Tad Williams

# 6. Manipulate.

Choose to live by choice, not by chance; to make changes, not excuses; to motivate others, not to manipulate them; to be useful, not to use others for your own benefit. – Unknown

# 7. Neglect.

Some people hurt by words and some by action, but the biggest hurt I believe is that someone ignoring you when you thought they would be there for you when things go wrong. – Unknown

# 8. Ridicule.

Someone had rightly said that ridicule is the first and last argument of a fool. To poke fun at others is no sign of good breeding and is rather abusive in nature. Ridiculing the weakness of others and mocking at your lesser, feebler mates is indeed contemptuous. – Unknown

# 9. Underestimate.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. – General George S. Patton

# 10. Yell.

Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder. – Rumi

And my favorite one:

No matter the size of your title or the scale of the organization you lead, the bigger the title, the greater the person behind it must be. – My father.

My advice to leaders: If you want to become an admired and well-respected leader, make sure you do not do unto your people any of the ten things listed above.

If you are not sure about whether you may be abusing your title or position, apply the Golden Rule or Principle of Reciprocity:

Treat others in the same way you would like to be treated! It is that simple!

My advice to organizations: If you want to become a well-respected institution, start by instilling a solid culture based on humanistic values and beliefs, and follow the simple principle of reciprocity, top to bottom, without exceptions.

My advice to the victims: Stand up for your rights. Document and report any abuse to senior managers and HR, as well as to your local authorities if necessary. If your organization tolerates this sort of behavior, it may be time to move on and find a better place to be.

The so-called, so critical, employee engagement starts with “Treating others in the same way you would like to be treated”.Do not allow a bully flush valuable human capital down the toilet and get away with it.

Let´s wrap it all up with one more great quote:

Some people bring out the worst in you; others bring out the best, and then there are those remarkably rare, addictive ones who just bring out the most. Of everything. They make you feel so alive that you’d follow them straight into hell, just to keep getting your fix. – Karen Marie Moning

hope you enjoyed the reading. If so, please do not forget to click on “Like” and share it with others who may find it useful too.

I will love it if you take a minute to comment on this article. That´s the best encouragement to continue to write and share knowledge.

You may also enjoy some of my recent articles:

Jordi Alemany is an energetic, enthusiastic and innovative executive coach, management consultant, and bi-lingual (English-Spanish) author and speaker, with a contagious passion for Humanistic Leadership. He devotes a great portion of his life to help others reach their next level and exploit their full potential.

Best regards,

Jordi Alemany


About Jordi Alemany

I am a multi-cultural and multi-lingual (English, Spanish, Catalan and Italian) executive coach and management consultant, specializing in Humanistic Leadership, Organizational Strategy, and Portfolio Management disciplines. I am an energetic, creative and resourceful, with an innate passion for helping others reach their full potential.
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