Don’t tolerate your team. Don’t just accept them. Respect them!

In this post, we talk about how to create high-performing teams: through tolerance, acceptance or respect?

Acceptance is not good enough. Tolerance is a low option. The best way to create high-performing teams is through Respect.


The first and a basic level of interacting with your team members is tolerance. What is tolerance? Tolerance means acknowledging the difference in another person and enduring it. The difference might be behavioural, cultural or personality traits. This low form of interaction mainly means bearing another person’s differences. It acknowledges the differences of the Other, but nothing more. If you are in a tolerating interacting mode with your team members, you are keeping some space and some distance to that person. You only feel comfortable when there is some (big) space between each other.

The benefits of tolerance are few. If you have to and must work, live or be with somebody who in fact you do not appreciate or like, with tolerance you can best survive. You do not enjoy the interaction, and you might actually try to avoid it, however you manage to live and to work side-by-side, at least.

When you are in a tolerating mode as a leader or manager, the team members will feel it. They will not feel appreciated or accepted, and will have a lower sense of motivation, recognition and self-worth. Thus they will most likely be under-performing.

The mode of tolerance is the lowest form of interacting with someone. It is certainly not the best way to create a happy and performing team.

Acceptance Summer16newsletter-2

Acceptance means that you see and perceive your team members and people around you as they truly are. You accept the Other, and you two are on the same level. You treat someone else who is different, as an equal. An accepting leader sees both the good and the bad sides of their team members, recognises them and lives with those traits.

The benefits of acceptance are that you and your team members feel more comfortable and more at ease when working together. It thus creates a sense of security and safety. With acceptance, you have a lower level of discomfort, fewer tensions and less stress.

When you are an accepting leader, you treat your team better on a higher level than a tolerating leader. You go deeper and get closer to your team members. You welcome and accept the differences in their behavioural, cultural and or personality traits. You in fact allow them to be different, and this way, your relationship feels more secure.

When you are in an accepting mode as a leader or manager, you create a good and stable environment. Thus your team members will likely be performing as they should.

While this mode of acceptance is higher than a tolerating mode, it is still not the best way to create a happy and very high performing team.


The highest form to interact with your team members is with Respect. Everyone wants and likes respect. During my seminars, but also outside in private talks, it is always one of big terms used and highlighted. Even FIFA and UEFA have it sown on every single shirt of every professional football player on this planet: Respect.

Respect is easy to demand, yet difficult to give. It means highly valuing and appreciating the differences in your team members, or in the Other: their specific behavioural, cultural, or personality traits. Respect means not only tolerating, accepting the other person, but to see something valuable, beautiful and special in them. Something that makes you “awe” or “wow”. It means to look up to that person because of that special thing. It makes you want to be like them and to imitate that specific trait. So now, how many people do you really think you respect? 😉

Respecting your team members means looking for something positive, valuable or a quality that they have inside of themselves. With this interactive respectful mode, you go one step further and appreciate, embrace and value that difference in your team members. In fact, when you truly respect another person, you find a quality inside of them that you not only respect, but you would like to acquire and replicate within yourself, so to be better.

A respectful leader connects with their team members on a much deeper level and thus creates a happy and over-performing team.

Summer16newsletterFinally, to make the difference clear, would you say to someone you love: (a) “Darling, I tolerate you so much,” (b) “Darling, I accept you as you are,” or (c) “Darling, I respect you so much for who you are”?

As a practical assignment for those who want to go a step further, when you deal with your team members, your colleagues, or a friend, your partner, wife/husband, look consciously for one thing you respect in them. If you want to do the second step, then offer them a compliment: “I respect you for being …”, or “I respect that you do …”.

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