The Leader Guide: How to be a respected leader? | Aga Kokoszewska

Aga Kokoszewska
4 min readAug 21, 2021


leadership and collaboration

By being open, honest and direct with themselves and those around them.

It is actually that simple, although at times quite hard to achieve. Leaders will show their confidence and courage to admit to a mistake or to say something not necessarily popular. They will be open to learning something new, they don’t know yet. When leaders are honest and have good intentions towards their team and others around them, they will gain respect and inspire others to behave in the same way.
Now the question is, how to demonstrate these values every day to gain respect at a workplace?
Not only that actually.

By being open, honest and direct while performing their job they should also remain likewise in personal life.

So here are few tips on how to show your self-awareness and become a respected leader:

Admitting a mistake.

A good leader shows strength in admitting to taking a wrong decision, being responsible for an error, missing a deadline, failing to achieve a goal. There is no benefit in ignoring or trying to hide it. You are not a good example to follow if you do so. Recognize the mistake, address it and do your best to fix the issue. In the end, this is how you would like your team to act as well, right? We all make mistakes and should learn from them to become better next time. And if you are wrong, admit it, listen and learn. Next time you will know how to take the right path and improve. And people will respect you for that.

Learning, how to say “I don’t know.”

You are a leader, not an expert in your or every other possible area of the business. No matter how long you are with the organization or even within the industry, there will always be something you will not know… yet. And that is fine. Your position does not come with the “I have to know it all” tag. If you do not know the answer to a question or need upskilling to complete a task, just say “I don’t know”. You will look into it and come back with an answer. Hiding it usually has little benefit as you may get into a situation where you will be cornered and look simply silly for pretending. Trust me, people will appreciate your honesty and see you as more trustworthy.


It is part of the job.
There will always be a time where you need to say no to either your employee or a superior. When we receive an unrealistic request, that silly deadline to complete a task, we are stretched to the limits with resources, or even our health is at risk, physical or mental. A responsible leader needs to have “no” in their dictionary and use it wisely. You should explain the reason for refusing to agree to something or, for example, to take on an additional project. Be diplomatic about it as well. Perhaps you cannot agree to the current proposal but there is a different scenario of the situation you would be able to say yes to.


As a self-aware leader, you should be open with yourself by knowing what you don’t know. Be proactive, question yourself, seek and listen to the advice of more knowledgeable people than you. There is always someone else to learn from. Invest in yourself. Successful people know, that the best investment is in themselves. Get a coach. Enrol in a course. Education is not something you can finish, and there is always room for improvement. People respect and look up to a person’s determination for constant improvement.

Be curious, ask for an explanation, verify information received and look for that deep dive into the query. It does not show your lack of understanding or lack of knowledge. It simply means that you are aware of when to seek more details. Sometimes all it takes to complete a task or move forward correctly with a project is to ask a question. And if you have a team, ensure they always understand, what is requested from them. Communication is the key to a successful collaboration.


So to summarize, If you follow these few small steps, you will demonstrate being open, honest and direct. That will make you a respected and self-aware leader people would like to follow and introduce as an example of a manager they can relate to. Communication and collaboration improve when people in leadership positions are not afraid to ask questions or admit they have made a mistake. When a leader is self-aware, learns to improve and can say “no” whenever necessary, people respect and take an example from the approach.

Originally published at on August 21, 2021.



Aga Kokoszewska

I am a passionate and experienced Career and Leadership Coach