Group photo from the C2C in Boston, MA on May 2, 2019

A group of Wake Foresters gathered over dinner in Boston, MA on May 2, 2019 to discuss Leadership & Character.

Overview and highlights of our Call to Conversation:

  • We discussed leadership and character through the lens of our own lived experience. Often we think of leadership as something that we see only in prominent public figures, but our discussion highlighted that character is also important in creating “everyday” leaders.
  • One of the themes that ran through our discussion was the idea that character and leadership require empathy, an ability to look outside ourselves and recognize the problems and struggles that those around us face. Then it requires us to go one step further and try to help in whatever way we can.
  • In a similar vein, we noted that often times when we think of character and leadership we think of people that are willing to put the good of others or of the group above their own self-interest. While we didn’t feel that self-sacrifice was necessary to character, we did feel that having a willingness to put others first at times was an important aspect.
  • Even as we talked about empathy as being an important part of character, we also discussed that another key aspect of character and leadership was the courage to speak hard truths, a willingness to move ourselves and the groups we belong to outside our comfort zones. We discussed the importance of having the courage to admit our mistakes and take ownership of our actions.
  • We also discussed the tendency to see people as “good or bad” rather than thinking about “good actions vs bad actions.” We are not always comfortable with shades of gray but especially as we mature we realize that things are not always as clear cut as they once seemed. We talked about trying not to judge others based on single acts and strive for forgiveness and compassion.
  • Going forward many of us looked at trying to be more aware of the small yet powerful displays of character that we see everyday, having an awareness that we don’t all necessarily see character the same way, and finally remembering some of the best going away to college advice ever – take time to be nice!