Editor’s note: This post was originally published on December 19, 2013.

For many of us December means holiday preparations and celebrations.

For me, it has also come to mean the rather demoralizing task of having to read story after story of disrespect and abuse.

Now you might be wondering, Erica: why on earth would you want to subject yourself to such a depressing task during the season of light and joy? The short answer is that I am a panel member charged with the task of ranking America’s worst leaders for the eBossWatch America’s Worst Bosses list.

Our task as panel members is to read through the 100 or so cases of leaders who harass and bully those they are hired to lead, and rank them from 1 – 10: 1 being worst, 10 being the best.

Let me be clear here. When I say best, I don’t actually mean best as in good; I mean best as in the least awful.

Whatever the ranking, one commonality in these cases  is abuse of power by those in positions of power. Another commonality is that the targets are overwhelmingly women, members of visible minorities or LGBT individuals. The most aggravating commonality is that when targets chose to speak up, they are either ignored or retaliated against.

As depressing a task as it is, I choose to remain a part of this panel because I support the work of individuals like Asher Adelman, founder of eBossWatch.  His  goal is to empower job seekers with information about potential workplaces and what it’s really like to work there.  As I learned when I interviewed Asher a number of years ago, it was his first-hand, nightmare experience of working in a hostile work environment that inspired him to find a way for people to evaluate prospective employers and avoid bad bosses.

Being a panel member affirms for me why I am in the Respect Business.

Like Asher, I want individuals to be empowered to choose respect rather than disrespect. I want us to use our collective power to create change by saying no to abusive bosses and disrespectful workplace cultures.

It struck me as an  interesting coincidence that on the same day I was ranking abusive leaders, the world had gathered to say farewell to Nelson Mandela, a leader who personified what it means to ‘Model the Behaviour’, to walk the talk of respect.

Mandela once said that he felt “morally obliged” to do what he did in his life. While it can be argued that there are vast differences in how individuals interpret morality, our values are the foundation for  acts and behaviours which can be  described as moral obligations.

I believe that we can get some clear insights as to the values that inspired Mandela’s moral obligation from this quote:

“No one person is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

The values of love, joy, peace, respect and compassion are the values of enlightenment.

When we align our behaviour with these values, we manifest our divine destiny; our soul’s purpose. It is no coincidence that these are the values that come to the forefront during the “Christmas” season.

Something else many of us do at this time of year is reflect on the past year and think about  “resolutions”, changes we can implement in the New Year. How might we, and by extension, our workplaces and our communities be transformed if more of us choose respect over disrespect, love over hate, peace over conflict? I invite you to consider your values in relation to the concept of moral obligation and how that might translate to leadership.

When asked about leadership Mandela stated “Lead from the back and let others believe they are in front.”

If this style of respectful, empowered leadership becomes the norm in our workplaces, I am quite certain that the eBossWatch worst bosses list would become history. Imagine a world where disrespect is history. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate Christmas gift for all of us, whatever tradition we are part of?

Interested in finding out more about how your organization can embrace respect as a core principle? Learn more about our Connecting With Respect training or call us at 888-892-0300.