Leadership, when taken for granted, can be misused and a pathway for negative actions that affect everyone all the way down the chain. If you’re in any type of leadership position, people are looking up to you, and you need to think about how your actions will affect others.
On Oct. 21, after being detained from a Southwest Arlines flight, a man told an FBI agent after his arrest that the “president of the United States says it’s OK to grab women by their private parts.”
This incident is just one example of how someone with a position of authority can transfer their mindset and beliefs to a mass audience. Through our president’s words, whether intentional or not, he led others to believe it is acceptable to behave in a particular manner. This is a prime an example of how leadership can be used negatively.
If we have an opportunity to stand in front of others and guide them, we need to be aware of our responsibility to shepherd people along the right track.
There are many examples of positive leadership. Chance the Rapper donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools. Lebron James opened a public school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. Taylor Swift used her platform to encourage people to register to vote. Emma Watson served as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Baylor University President Dr. Linda Livingstone makes a point to connect with students and faculty alike in meaningful ways. These are the leaders who hold themselves to the highest standard by making sure they’re always the one who goes above and beyond.
When the people being led see this initiative, not only do they gain respect for their leader, but they are able to grow as leaders themselves. If people see leadership done well, they’re more willing to follow rules set in place when they see the person in charge taking it just as seriously as they’re expected to. A leader is expected to be the role model for the rest of the group, and when they’re not, everything starts to crumble.
Young adult celebrities are often cast into this realm. Kids look up to Disney Channel stars, and when the celebrity does something that’s not portraying them as a good role model, parents get upset, and their actions may negatively affect their career. Some argue that it’s not fair to hold celebrities to this standard, but they knew what they were signing up for when they agreed to be on a TV show or record an album aimed at pre-teens. This is a form of leadership because so many people are looking up to them, and they should take advantage of the opportunity to encourage their fans to do something positive like eat healthier or take care of the environment.
With Trump’s words still negatively affecting the actions of men, think about some of your own words or actions that could be seen as a negative portrayal of leadership. Be aware of the situations in life in which people are looking up to you and make an effort to go the extra mile to give the people an example they can follow. If we ourselves aren’t setting the standard, we can’t get mad at the people we’re leading for not following the rules.
It is a leader’s responsibility to set the example and use their leadership for something positive. Big or small, any leadership position sets the tone for how the group they’re leading will act.