Your employees' respect is critical to the success of your business. Respect engenders employee engagement, and, according to Gallup research, engaged employees are more productive, make fewer errors, take fewer sick days and have fewer accidents.

But being the boss doesn't automatically entitle you to the respect you seek, and understanding that will help your business thrive. Respect is something you earn every day — by what you do, how you project yourself and the care you extend to your employees — and it takes work.

So how do you gain respect? Here are seven ways:

1. Lead by Example

Your actions speak volumes to your employees. Embody the qualities you expect of your employees and wish them to cultivate. For instance, your passion for your business can help drive your employees' interest; your hard work can help motivate theirs. Demonstrate the traits you value, such as integrity, trustworthiness, creativity and kindness, and your team will likely follow suit. Meet your employees' expectations and you'll help foster their respect for you as their leader.

2. Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Your Hands Dirty

Work alongside your employees once in a while, especially when they can use the extra help. They'll notice your commitment and willingness to pitch in.

3. Listen

When your employees talk to you, really listen to what they have to say. Encourage them to share their ideas, concerns and feedback about their work, your leadership and your operation. You'll not only build a good rapport, but you may also gain valuable insight that could help you improve your business, your interactions with the team and, ultimately, your bottom line. The more actions you take based on what you hear, the more you will help engender your employees' trust and commitment.

4. Express Your Gratitude for Work Well-Done

Everyone wants to be recognized with performance rewards such as top pay, benefits and perks, but even a simple expression of appreciation can go a long way toward making your employees feel valued. Give credit where credit is due. Acknowledge excellence with a personal note or a public statement of thanks that you share with the whole team, citing the employee's specific contributions or unique qualities that have made a difference. Or send an email with a sincere message of thanks during busy times and before the holidays.

5. Relate to Your Employees on a Personal Level

Make time to check in with your employees on a regular basis to see how they are doing. Take a genuine interest in what matters to them: their families, their activities outside of work and the causes that are important to them. When you make personal connections, your employees may be more relaxed in your presence — and know that you see them as more than just cogs in a machine.

6. Admit Your Own Mistakes

Just because you're the boss doesn't mean you're infallible. You'll inevitably make mistakes from time to time. Rather than deny what may be obvious to everyone around you, be accountable for yourself. Admit your error and the fallout it may have caused, and take visible corrective action. By being honest and transparent, you can help foster greater respect and engagement among your employees.

7. Forgive the Mistakes of Others

We're all human. Just as you need the freedom to make mistakes, your team members do, too — especially when they're taking risks to grow outside of their professional comfort zone. Forgive honest mistakes, and provide your employees with the opportunity to resolve them on their own.

In the end, the best way to get respect is to give it. Demonstrate your commitment to the success of your employees: Support their efforts, be thoughtful about when to weigh in and when to step back, and put their accomplishments above your own. That way, everyone wins: you, your employees and your business.

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Tags: Leadership Development Employee Engagement