By Sig Berg –
The Walk to Freedom on June 23, 1963 in Detroit. It was the largest civil rights march in the nation’s history up to that date. It drew crowds estimated to be 125,000. The march was led by Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. He said this for the first time,
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin,
but by the content of their character.
Let’s for a minute reflect on what Dr. King meant when he talked about the content of character. This refers to the core ethical values of honesty and integrity, respect for others, taking responsibility for one’s actions, being fair and just, and having love and compassion for others.
Today, one does not need to look very far to see that we are living in the midst of a chaotic mess. A submicroscopic infectious agent has invaded our world. People are dying, economies are in shambles, the political process is paralyzed, and many are without jobs and the basic necessities of life. Yet, we seem to be spending more time arguing about the severity of the threat, rather than fully focusing on winning the war itself.
Now, more than ever people need help – food, temporary financial support, and a plan for moving forward. In the short term we must help those who are in need of food, shelter, and medical care. It is imperative for us to fully support those on the front lines – struggling to fight the battle against our common enemy.
There is also a need for long term foundational efforts to provide the leadership that has the vision and ability to bring people together, to develop strategy, plans, and resources necessary to meet the challenges of today and at the same time to be prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. Only when we are united and our short-term efforts are aligned with longer-term goals and strategy, can we flourish as a nation.
Now, more than ever, we need a solid core of leaders, leaders of character. We need men and women from every sector of society whose behaviors testify to their love and integrity, and who have the sole desire to serve others before self. These men and women are willing to put it all on the line to make a difference. They are brokers of hope. Without them, there is no future.
Just as Dr. King had a dream, so does the Severn Leadership Group.
We believe that the future can be better than the present and that
we have a moral and personal responsibility to make it so.
We are unswerving in our desire to develop mid-career professionals who are committed to serving others before self. The leadership perspective of the SLG is centered in a systems-based approach to leadership and followership—grounded in three basic precepts:
· Leadership and followership are defined by one’s character and are relational in nature
· Selfless courage and service to others is not a style of leadership, but a learned behavior
· Character is shaped by a core set of timeless and transcendent virtues
The SLG provides comprehensive time for self-reflection about purpose and core virtues. On the practical side we look at organizational dynamics, how to develop teams, an engaged workforce, and organizations that are able to sustain excellence and high performance.
An equally important part of our program are experienced leaders who serve as mentors – as friends who listen, ask questions, encourage, and challenge when necessary.
The program lasts about six months, depending on location. Some cohorts are geographically based, while others are virtual. We have over 200 fellows worldwide making a difference.
The country singer, Conway Twitty, gives us some solid advice about character from these lines in his song, “Don’t Call Him a Cowboy.”
Don’t call him a cowboy
Until you have seen him ride
‘Cause a Stetson hat and them fancy boots
Don’t tell you what’ inside
Now, more than ever, we need leaders of character, leaders who lead by example. Nothing less will do.
Come and join us in this vital endeavor.