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Respect, Safety, and Responsibility - How Do Leaders Model 'How to Belong' in Today's World

by Margaret Bell | June 11, 2018

We are told from a young age that respect, safety, and responsibility are key attributes for success in life. We must show respect to our fellow human beings, we must act in a safe and secure manner, and we must take responsibility for our actions.

But how do these aspects of our behaviour relate to our sense of belonging in the world we inhabit? To understand this, it is important to recognise what we are as human beings. Of course, we are individuals, expressing our own thoughts, feelings, and personalities. But we cannot only be this - we must also be fully functional members of the wider community, behaving in ways which serve not only ourselves but the other members of our society.

In this sense, the importance of respect, safety, and responsibility become abundantly clear. We must treat each other with respect if we are to receive this respect in return. We must work to create a safe and secure environment in which our society can thrive. We must assume responsibility for this environment, and work to bring out the best in our society and in ourselves.

So, if these values are vital for our continued survival as humans within a wider society, how are they fostered and nurtured in the next generation? Leadership, of course, plays a key part in this.

Leaders, at all levels of society, are called to model these attributes, demonstrating how they can be applied rather than simply extolling their virtues. This means the politicians that serve in government, but also the managers and team leaders in our workplaces, the teachers in our schools, the community figures who work so hard for our society, and the parents and guardians in households across the country; so often the unsung heroes of society.

It could be argued that this has never been more important. A recent study by author and educator Steve Biddulph found that the mental health of the next generation of young Australian women is being harmed by the lack of a paternal role model, while a paper published by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency highlighted the need for increased diversity within leadership positions in Australian industry. Without these positive role models, we run the risk of excluding certain individuals from a society which should be welcoming them.

We will be discussing this in more detail over the coming weeks, as we explore how instilling the concepts of respect, safety, and responsibility into our young people through positive leadership is critical to building a society in which all can flourish.

Margaret Bell, AM - Founder and CEO of Chain Reaction Foundation.

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