Respect. A seven-letter word meaning "to regard as being worthy." In essence, it is the Golden Rule. Yet leaders everywhere misuse it, do not understand what it entails and demand it without giving it.
A perfect example can be observed repeatedly during our bi-monthly school board meetings. For many people in our community, these telecasts have become a never-ending soap opera with predictable outcomes. For others, it is just another example of the dysfunction occurring within our educational system in our nation.
For a very short time, it appeared that Dr. Mary Cantrell could harness the energy of the masses and move our school district in a positive direction. For those who knew her well, she was the purist example of respectful leadership seen on the dais in several years.
When I had the opportunity to view the school board "after meeting discussion" this past week, I observed board members continuing to struggle with respectful leadership.
The basics of respect are really quite simple. Lead by example and give it freely to everyone.
I emailed the board member pushing for decorum and respect. I commended her but questioned why it was not commonplace during her first term in office. Her response was simple. "My respect was shown toward individuals in the district who deserved it and earned it."
So there you have it. If respect is not given freely, it will never truly be earned. Caveats create excuses. Excuses create reasons for refusing to do what is right.
Our school board members were elected to represent our community with integrity and respect. Great leaders convey goals with the utmost respect for their all of their constituents. They gain loyalty and integrity in return. Leading by example is vital and a great investment, in my humble opinion.