An example of someone that embodies this aspect of leadership, more specifically the earned and accountable authority, is a teacher I have known for a few years. It might seem like a simple example but she is a leader and mentor in a smaller community even though she might not hold office. Such leaders have the ability to influence and inspire others too, especially since they are responsible for the education of individuals. Since respect isn’t given but earned, it depends on our actions and behaviour towards others and earned respect recognizes individuals who display valued qualities. Although a teacher has more power and authority than students in a school setting, respect is always essential from both sides in all kinds of relationships. This teacher has actually achieved to earn the respect of the students since she is aware of her position and power but at the same time treats students equally and with respect. In return, the students also show respect toward her, building up a healthy relationship between a “leader” and individuals. This has set an example for the students of an ideal democratic society and thus practices like this one can be reflected in other settings too. In this case, it can be observed that relations of authority are indeed essential but they should undeniably be earned in practices of democratic accountability. The process of earning the respect of others might be time consuming or challenging at times but at the end of the day this specific aspect of leadership is the basis of democratic leadership. This exact process has made it possible for the teacher to be actually heard by the students and to be treated with courtesy. In this way respect has built feelings of trust, safety and wellbeing between teacher and students which not only makes communication easier but also makes the painstaking and exhausting process of attending lessons, completing assignments and exams, more interesting and easier for the students. If the respect in this classroom wasn’t earned in democratic practices by the teacher then it would be clear that she not only recognizes her authority and power in the school setting but also takes advantage of it, leading to the eventual lack of communication between individuals, even though they all are part of a democratic society. All in all, it is of great importance for respect to be intensively part of both smaller and larger communities in order for democratic societies to fulfil the purpose of democracy in the first place
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