Leading with courtesy

In conversations I’ve been having recently, the matter of ‘courtesy’ or ‘etiquette’ in leadership and organisations more broadly has been cropping up quite often. Specifically, many people have noticed a shift in the way that ‘common courtesy’ is adopted in professional settings. 

Courtesy in your organisation

What is courtesy in leadership and in day-to-day business life? Of course, there are the usual ‘please’ and ‘thank you’s that never go unappreciated, but there are also other areas where courtesy seems to have gone missing. You might recognise some of the below scenarios: 

  • Walking in on a Monday morning without asking/being asked about the weekend or greeted with a ‘Good morning’. 
  • Potential candidates applying for a position who do not receive acknowledgement of their application or an email to let them know they’ve been unsuccessful. 
  • An email going unanswered for days or weeks at a time.
  • Showing up late to meetings regularly. 
  • Never returning a text message or missed phone call. 
  • Being distracted by other messages or calls during a meeting. 

There are dozens more examples of courtesy – or lack thereof – in the average workplace. The fact that there are so many scenarios where courtesy can make a difference shows you just how important it can be. None of us like to be on the receiving end of perceived rudeness, even if it was unintentional, but it’s about more than that. 

It’s about more than just manners 

While it’s true we are entering an era where professional interactions are more casual, it doesn’t mean that the core value of etiquette and common courtesy will ever disappear. 

In an organisation or in your everyday life, courtesy: 

  • Shows other people you appreciate and value them. 
  • Demonstrates that you are mindful of their time. 
  • Validates the effort they’ve put into any given task. 
  • Acknowledges their contributions.

Courtesy isn’t just minding Ps and Qs, it’s about creating a culture where everyone is valued and recognised for their efforts – big or small. Recognition has never been about the big bonuses or gift baskets (although, of course, they never go amiss!) but about the culture that that recognition creates, where everyone knows they are appreciated and their efforts are celebrated. 

The impact of a lack of courtesy

Consider the potential employee who spends a few days putting together their application for a position at your organisation. Not only have they put in effort to their application, there is a significant emotional toll as they get their hopes up for a new chapter in life. They submit their application and then … radio silence. 

In this situation, it may be that the candidate wasn’t right for the role, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t put effort into their application. It doesn’t mean they don’t deserve acknowledgement of those efforts. 

And, in fact, your brand can be damaged if you don’t display this courtesy. Candidates might be left wondering why they would want to work for any organisation that doesn’t take the time to recognise effort when it is put in. It’s the same for customers or clients who may not be shown consideration – they may take their business elsewhere. 

A culture of courtesy, driven by leadership

The good news is that it isn’t difficult to build a culture of courtesy. It requires leaders to be mindful, to put recognition and etiquette at the top of their list and to model it in their own behaviour, so that their team is on the receiving end and emulates that behaviour in their interactions with each other, customers and clients. 

Want to lead a culture of courtesy in your organisation? People Make the Difference can help. To find out more, visit www.pmtd.com.au or call us on 0412 333 415. Try our online leadership training videos – $99 for complete access. Great value if you’re committed to growing your leadership potential.