Heart Centred Leadership: The Beginning of the Journey
Coaching young people to become leaders of tomorrow is a fulfilling task, giving them the skills, understanding, and confidence they need to achieve success on their chosen paths.
What is it to be a leader? We are not talking about future Prime Ministers or politicians - at least not necessarily. We are not even talking about organisational heads or other elevated positions. Good leadership permeates every aspect of our society, and is a vital component of all social structures.
Think about schools, about workplaces, about family units, even about individuals following a difficult path of self-discipline. To run efficiently, all of these entities need quality leadership, both externally and internally.
And what do all these elements come together to make up? They make up the very fabric of our society.
Leadership From the Heart
I've titled this post 'Heart Centred Leadership', and this is something we are going to be exploring in more depth in the coming weeks and months. It conveys an idea of leadership which is not authoritarian, disciplinarian, or punitive; but nurturing, warm, passionate.
Who do you best respond to? Someone who yells a lot and takes away your freedoms, or someone who you know has your best interests at heart? The answer, in almost every case, is the latter.
This is what we aim to provide for young people at Learning Ground. We are seeking to help the participants to become warm, empathetic people who make positive differences in the world around them, and to society as a whole. The learning begins with an internal sense of self-respect, esteem and belonging.
Building Self Respect
We may ask is there a problem with self-respect and self-esteem in Australia? Perhaps outwardly we are seen as an ebullient, confident nation of people willing to make our voices heard, but this is not necessarily the same as self-respect and self-esteem.
In fact, studies have shown that self-esteem rapidly plummets when our children become adolescents. Of course, these are young people in transition, and hormones have a big part to play, but the fact is that our society is not geared towards supporting and nurturing self-esteem. Instead, it is explained away as 'mere biology' - something unavoidable - when in fact we can do something about it.
The problem that we face as a nation is underlined when we look at the figures for adults - particularly women - suffering from low self-esteem. A report carried out by the global skin care and toiletries brand, Dove, discovered that around 80% of women have low self-esteem caused by body image, something which in itself can be a toxic social construct.
A third study, conducted by Doctor Alexandra Delis-Abrahams, found that low self-esteem in young people was a serious factor in youth crime, school drop out rates, and in general delinquency.
Love Within / Love Without
If the situation remains this way - if large swathes of our younger generations have their lives thrown off track by low self-esteem and a lack of self-respect - the future looks bleak. By fostering a love from within (i.e., a love and respect for the self), we can build towards a loving and caring attitude towards others, and towards providing a genuine benefit to society at large.
This is where heart centred leadership begins, and this is how we make it grow. At Learning Ground, as the new Term starts to build momentum, we look forward to making serious progress with the young people who come through our doors, teaching them, working with them, and learning something too, from the richness of their experience and their outlook on life.
This is just the beginning of the journey to the heart.
Margaret Bell, AM - Founder and CEO of Chain Reaction Foundation.
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