I really enjoy a good night’s sleep and with all the amazing gadgets that help monitor this, I know I am getting a healthy balance of deep, light and REM sleep.

Sometimes I do wake up around that 3.00 am marker with something on my mind, and more often than not what keeps me awake at that point is thinking about the lack of emotionally healthy leadership in our current political environment.

I had the privilege of working with a group of regional community leaders for two days last week and one of our table conversations turned to that exact topic.

One of them commented on how different political leaders appear to be when you meet them one on one – respectful, curious, concerned and focussed on the topic at hand. We would consider this a great ‘above the line’ example.

This all seems to change when they walk into the ‘chamber’. It doesn’t seem to matter on which side a politician sits. Suddenly almost all of them become incredibly disrespectful, blaming, defending, naming and shaming. In other words, they exhibit classic ‘below the line’ behaviours – behaviours we would not tolerate in other environments.

To make things worse, there is nothing that resembles genuine debate and exchange of ideas. There is no sense of ‘both … and’ – it is entirely ‘either … or’.

Around our table, we agreed that you could argue that all the politicians are doing is ‘playing by the rules’ that exist in that space. However, we also agreed that the example they are presenting gives all of us a justification for behaving in the same way. After all, they are ‘leading’ the nation and we voted them in.

What came next in the conversation was a question I’m often asked: ‘So if that is how you are feeling, why don’t you step into that world and make a difference as an emotionally healthy leader?’

That’s where my own 3.00 am reflections re-appear:

  • What would others (especially politicians and media) ‘dig up’ to cast doubt on me, my family and friends?
  • How could I maintain my emotional health in such a ‘below the line’ environment?
  • How would I ‘call out’ the behaviour and offer alternatives, when the response might be ‘Grow up, girlie’ (which I have heard before)?
  • What will it take to find like-minded people who are also willing to step in with me to represent the changes that need to be made?

I know I have presented a generalised picture of the world of politics and I apologise to those who genuinely are there with ‘above the line’ engagement.

I am also aware that the media (in all its forms) can paint pictures that do not represent the actual situation. However, it is hard to ignore the reality of a televised ‘Question Time’ from parliament.

So what can be done? What reflections and responses do you have to my three-in-the-morning questions? How possible is it to change the ‘game’ and lead by example? What might we need to do differently to make that happen? I have several ideas to build on in a future blog post and look forward to incorporating yours.