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Political Respect Has Been in Short Supply in Queensland for the Past 25 Years - email sent 9/8/15

Kylie Lang,
Sunday Mail

Re: Leading with respect begets respect, Sunday Mail, 9/8/15

Your article highlighted the value of leading with respect for others – and the problems that can arise when ‘power corrupts’ and eliminates respect and fair treatment for others.

My Interpretation of your article: Power often corrupts because leaders forget the need to serve with humility, foster trust and be seen to be fair. People in power easily lose touch with reality. They act as if the rules of decent behaviour do not apply to them. Respect involves showing esteem for others, while arrogance by contrast involves showing an inflated sense of self importance. Dacher Keltner (University of California) argues that power corrupts – as people act more selfishly, impulsively and aggressively and have trouble seeing others’ point of view. The skills that are needed to gain power (ie being cheerful, empathetic and able to advance the goals of others) tend to be lost when people gain power. People given power tend to use stereotypes to judge others – and also lose touch / have a propensity to turn into socio-paths. In organisations most anti-social behaviour comes from those with power. People at the top must be accountable not only for their use of resources but also for leading with humility.

Unfortunately in my experience, Queensland’s political ‘leaders’ have long suffered from a serious leak of respect for others (eg see Bullying of Staff by Queensland's Politicians .. Really?? , 2008). As an early victim of the abuses of power that escalated in Queensland in the early 1990s, I have long taken an interest in the problem and have sought to document its consequences (eg see CV and Towards a Professional Public Service, 1998+).

Good luck in your advocacy of political leadership that does not believe that they ‘know it all’. It is long overdue and, though the public interest has been severely compromised as a result, your article is the first that I have seen suggesting that serving with humility, fostering trust and being fair even matters.


John Craig