Character Chats

Responsible Leadership

What is responsible leadership?

Here at True Balance Karate in Downers Grove, Illinois, we have a social emotional learning program called true character.

I’m Master H owner and chief instructor here at the studio. I have two master’s degrees in education, and one of which is in curriculum adaptations. Taking this kind of program and adapting it to our youngest students, which are three and our oldest students, which are 83.


And like I said, we’re talking about responsibility. And we started off talking about how responsible people were reliable, accountable, dependable, able to get the job done, knew what needed to be taken care of, could see the expectations.

That’s the definition of being responsible.

And then we talked about what that means when we borrow things, when we make promises, when we prioritize.

And then we talked about the consequences of not being responsible, how they could be positive if we were being responsible and they could be negative if we weren’t.

We broke something that we borrowed. We didn’t listen and follow the directions, those types of things.

Responsible leadership

And today we’re talking about responsible leadership.

We’re talking about going above and beyond, of leading by example, of demonstrating responsibility without being told.

Earlier, I shared a story about how my husband and I had gone on strike. And we were teaching our kids all of the responsibilities that went on in our house, because they kind of expected us to do for them. And they had gotten to an age where we didn’t have to do as much, but we as parents had gotten into a habit of just doing for our kids.

And so we started to look at all of the things that they could now do, that they were now double digits. They were now getting into their teenage years and they could take on some of those responsibilities.


And as we were teaching them that they were older and able to do these things, one of the things we talked about was to have your eyes open, to see other things.

If you see dishes in the sink and the dishwasher’s empty, you can just load it. No one needs to ask you for that.

If you see some garbage in the yard, you can pick it up. No one needs to ask you for that.

And so it’s that kind of going above and beyond that we’re talking about when we’re talking about responsible leadership.

It’s teaching our kids how to be aware of the world around them. “Hey look so and so is cleaning up the Legos.” And letting them go, “Oh, I could go and help.” Kind of thought process to go along with it.

Adult awareness

And there’s been plenty of times with adults that we don’t always see the ways that we can help.

We’re waiting for someone to point to us and say, I need you to go do this rather than seeing how that goes. And sometimes it’s because we’re on our phones the whole time.

Sometimes it’s because we just don’t know and we’re being educated even still as grownups. But helping everyone have their eyes open to the world around us helps to show that responsible leadership.

Here at the studio, we have a phrase called warriors leave no trace and we work to make sure that everything is picked up at the end of the night. Warriors leave no trace. The place should look better than you found it, cleaning up your garbage, putting it where it goes.

Being an example

And that is another idea of responsible leadership. It’s leading by example, it’s seeing something that needs to be done and owning it and taking responsibility for it and taking care of it.

In school, maybe it’s staying after and offering to help a teacher. It could be putting desks back at the end of the day, it could be picking up markers and crayons off the floor.

There’s plenty of things out there that can be this idea of leading by example, but it starts by teaching our kids to have their eyes open.

It’s babysitting. It’s having Thanksgiving dinner and everybody’s cooking in the kitchen and the oldest takes it upon themselves to watch out for the younger ones, so that they don’t get hurt or in the way or any of that stuff.

Giving them small jobs and seeing if they take it to the next step.

Responsible leadership

So when my kids were learning how to do their laundry, it was, we were teaching them how to use the washing machine. Did they then take it to the next step and say, I need to put it in the dryer.

And that would be a good indication that their eyes were open and that they are recognizing that there was another step to the process.

So learning this kind of servant leadership, responsible leadership, it’s not something that you are necessarily born with. It’s something that you hone that skill over time.

Thanks. And we’ll see you on the mat!

True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here