A group of Wake Forest staff from various departments within University Advancement gathered over lunch on March 30, 2017, in Alumni Hall on the campus of Wake Forest University to discuss leadership and character.

The group began by sharing personal and professional experiences of witnessing character in action. Participants realized that acts of character are not done for recognition and are often small things to the person doing them, but make a difference to others. Witnessing acts of character often contributes to growth and learning.

A group discussion began about the attributes that define character and a few different books and articles were mentioned. One particular quote resonated with the group: “Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you.”

The group connected this discussion to how character can be encouraged in our work environment, and discussed the obstacles to a culture of character. Several group members commented that University Advancement staff are fortunate to work in a kind and caring environment, one with strong core values and a positive culture. Poor leadership was cited as a common obstacle to establishing or maintaining a culture of character.

The conversation concluded with all participants sharing actions they would take as a result of the conversation, and some clear themes emerged:

  • One should recognize moments of character and celebrate it as such, particularly with children.
  • Modeling character is vital.
  • People should learn from the past to develop stronger character in the future.