Impact Leadership Learning

Mutual Respect and Healthy Relationships in Leadership

As we reflect on the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, our Panhellenic sister (Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority, Cornell University), in September of 2020, it is important to consider her approach to leadership through healthy relationships and mutual respect: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

We might consider the late Justice Ginsburg’s words as we seek to nurture mutual respect in our own relationships. Consider:

How can we maintain healthy relationships with mutual respect through points of view, experiences and belief structures?

Leadership is often about building consensus, but to be successful in that, one needs to be a good listener and authentically seek to understand the perspectives of others. Respect is a two-way street. Mutual respect allows the leader to connect with others and navigate relationships successfully to transform the world.

With mutual respect, we can improve our chances of effective dialogue when we consider possible gaps between our beliefs. In fact, it is instructive that Justice Ginsburg and Justice Antonin Scalia, though philosophically polarized, were said to have a healthy relationship. Their friendship demonstrated mutual respect through their difference in opinion in ways that benefitted them both. In fact, Justice Scalia’s son noted that they went so far as to help each other in refining their positions as they sought to understand and challenge each other, drawing out their best thinking.

Working to have mutual respect in our relationships requires us to think differently and to reach across the differences that might seek to divide us. With each response and action, we must consider if our own or others’ actions are respectful or if we need to have a deeper conversation about that relationship.

Remember Justice Ginsburg and her legacy of getting others to join her in her fight as you navigate your own relationships, ensuring that you and others seek mutual respect.

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