[August 11, 2018] Dignity is one of those concepts that has been used to mean so many different things that it has nearly lost it effectiveness in transmitting a clear idea about what us humans want most. Similar to a professional boxer who bobs and weaves, the meaning of ‘dignity’ seems to move around a lot.1
What we cannot deny is that everyone wants dignity … but how does a leader giving it makes us betters? This question is often not discussed. People want dignity. They crave it and look for ways to gain it; even the most ethically depraved. But what is dignity?
If you Google for the “dignity definition,” you will get over 70 million hits (yep, that’s a 70 followed by six zeros). The multiple meanings of dignity are useful because they begin to point us towards ideas that really shape what it does mean to most people.
To use a common definition, dignity is the commitment to human value. The origin of the concept of dignity appears to originate in the 13th Century and expanded in the Enlightenment Era (18th Century) along with inherent, inalienable rights of the person. One right of a person is to be valued for their own sake and be trusted ethically, morally, legally, and politically.
Dignity, freely given, is leadership in action. When a leader treats others with respect, they are saying that there is inherent trust and confidence in that person. All successful groups are built and maintained under this most basic principle. There is no substitute or work-around to completing a task or mission with any group.
The lesson is simple. Leaders who treat others with dignity will be far more successful. And, the only way to achieve great leadership, real leadership in action, is to freely give others the dignity all humans deserve.