Yes it is a respect thing. It could be due to Vinaya seniority or academic seniority- that they are in a higher class than he is. I have seen Geshe Sonam for example place khatags in the hands of several senior Vietnamese/Chinese monks when they greeted him.
The young DKR is extremely impressive! There was a recent film about him that really touched me. I like these low-key type tulkus rather than the "charismatic" ones, but perhaps that is a personal bias.
In order to ensure my mind never comes under the power of the self-cherishing attitude,
I must obtain control over my own mind.
Therefore, amongst all empowerments, the empowerment that gives me control over my mind is the best,
and I have received the most profound empowerment with this teaching.
brtsal ba'i bkhra drin