Chain Reaction Foundation

The Role of a Leader: A Protocol of Respect

by Margaret Bell | February 26, 2018

How do we recognise a leader?

The first concept that may spring to mind when we consider this question is one of 'command' – of being 'in charge' – but there is more to it than this.

Think about leaders who have inspired you at the different stages of your life. Think about the managers in the workplace who have also fulfilled the leadership role in an efficient and effective way. Think of teachers at school who were able to get the best out of their classes. Think about parents or grandparents who have implemented positive leadership in the home or in family communities.

Examining the question from this angle, we begin to see a common thread; that of respect and support.

This is the thread that we aim to continue with our sessions at Learning Ground. This is why we begin each session by introducing the protocols.

The Protocols of Learning Ground

At the beginning of each session, the group leader will greet those in attendance, saying "I greet you with great respect and with great affection."

Following this, each participant takes their turn to use the same greeting, to one another underlining the concepts of respect and affection within the group.

It is this show of warmth and solidarity together which lays the groundwork for a successful session; something we hope to accomplish each and every time we open our doors.

The Second Protocol

The second protocol which we introduce at Learning Ground is also a protocol of respect. This protocol is addressing the custodians of the land on which we meet.

"We acknowledge the local Aboriginal people (using the name of the Aboriginal peoples in our community, for example, The Darug people).

Elders past and present, are remembered and the gifts they bring us of connection and sense of place that are now our gifts that are experienced through the lives of the Elders. We accept the gifts with appreciation and respect.

We also acknowledge the ancestors of all our participants, acknowledging the journey that they have taken which leads to our being together at Learning Ground this year. We give thanks for the lives of those who have gone before us."

This is the protocol by which we reaffirm our connection to those who have gone before us, and recognise the importance of the land upon which we hold our sessions. We acknowledge communities of the recent past as well as those much further back in history. With this protocol, we are acknowledging our place within the unfolding story of humanity, and reinforcing the positive philosophy of Learning Ground, each one teach one.

The Psychology of Respect

We have looked at the philosophical and conceptual importance of providing these protocols at the beginning of each session, but there is also a science behind it. Many experts have identified a link between effective leadership and an atmosphere of mutual respect. These include executive coach David Peck, who champions the "return on investment of openness" and the "growing awareness of how decisions affect ourselves and others" in crafting an effective leadership style.

Meanwhile, a study published by educational support organisation ASCD in their publication Educational Leadership found that, by measuring the level of respect within a school​ and by taking steps to develop this level, national epidemics such as bullying can be brought to heel.

Respect does not begin only with our protocols, and it certainly does not end there. Instead, by beginning each session with our protocols we are working to ensure the ongoing proliferation of this most vital of concepts. And we invite you to think about it in connection with communities of which you are a part, at home, at work, at play.  Adopting this practise might just make all the difference, perhaps you will make a decision to join us in making it happen.

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

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