A group of Wake Foresters gathered over dinner in Greenwich, CT, on April 11, 2018, to discuss Leadership & Character.

Overview and highlights of our Call to Conversation:

  • A consistent theme that weaved through the conversation was the idea of service leadership – serving something larger than yourself. On the question of when do leadership and character overlap, the group agreed that individuals committing themselves to a larger purpose most often lead with character.
  • We were all enriched by the stories of character shown and the people whom displayed it. Everyone at the table shared personal examples of character by telling stories of individuals including: Larry Funk (using his platform to change the paradigm of ethical business leadership; Student leaders from Parkland high school; professional athlete M. Williams showing character in face of failure; local leaders in education that demonstrate character for students; young people who lead in the face of challenge and criticism; family members who teach us to live simply and with gratitude – time tested and life-loving; business leaders who put financial investment/action into socially conscious initiatives; everyday people around us who call for change and attention to issues that demand action; those who put their life on the line for others in the face of danger (2005 and 2011 Trade Center attacks).

Important themes we heard:

  • Small things matter – seeds for character are sown with small, everyday action
  • We must take time to teach our kids that character and leadership matter
  • Doing the right thing in the face of adversity or risk is at the heart of character
  • People are looking to be inspired from large actions and examples; but every-day life offers opportunities to demonstrate character (courage) and are vital to building a societal norm and expectation.
  • Leaders often don’t step forward because they fear persecution of being imperfect – our society has become unforgiving and relentless in condemning mistakes.
  • Personal connection and 1:1 communication is so vital to our society in developing leaders of character. There must be human relationship and dialogue in a humane society that inspires character and leadership. Social media can adversely impact this and also positively promote it: i.e., The Nantucket Project
  • Often times, leaders inspire others simply by asking to join her/him. Leaders inspire, encourage and gather people together for a greater good.