Leadership comes in many forms. Sometimes those in power need to set a drastic example to improve things for everyone. This is an example of royal leadership.
The 1980s are known for many stereotypes, including music, fashion and fads. One of the most unfortunate things that came to light in the 1980s is the HIV/AIDS epidemic. While HIV in the United States dates back to 1960, the epidemic started gaining the national and international spotlight in the early 80s as infections started to spread rapidly. The medical community struggled to wrap their heads around it and they were just as frightened as everyone in the world due to this relatively unknown disease. Rumors of how you could catch it were everywhere, and there was no cure. In the 1980s, if you caught HIV, you had a death sentence. People were scared in ways they never had imagined and those who contracted from HIV suffered from social exile in addition to their medical problems. No one wanted to be near them and risk catching HIV. Fortunately, one of the world’s most popular women changed that perspective.
Truly Hands On
In 1987, the Broderip Ward for the treatment of HIV infections was opened in London. To mark that opening, Diana, Princess of Wales visited and spoke with both staff and patients. While there, she did something that was publically and socially unheard of. She shook hands with multiple staff members and patients. She was not wearing gloves. In fact, even one of the staff members was HIV positive. For anyone, much less such a public figure, to shake hands with a person with HIV was just taboo at the time. There was no absolute reason she had to do it. She just knew it was the right thing to do. She had enough information on the disease and knew she was not going to get infected, and more importantly, she wanted to make a statement. Through the simple act of shaking someone’s hand, Princess Diana showed acceptance to those with the disease and showed the world that they were not to be feared. Instead, she showed them respect and care. With that simple action, Diana ushered in a new way of thinking. People started to look at HIV and those that have it differently.
It often takes a courageous person who is willing to make a bold move to change things. This is an example of excellent leadership.
This was written as a case study towards my MA in Leadership Studies at Northern Vermont University.