Note: Michael Epperson died on September 30, 2013. His presence is greatly missed. His example of service is timeless and can be of use to many people—including those who did not have the privilege of knowing him in life.
Where are the leaders now?
Amid the latest government shutdown in Washington, D.C., many of us are shaking our heads in amazement at the still-unfolding leadership failures of the American president and Congress.
Something else happened in Washington last week that is a reminder that there are servant leaders and patriots in our midst.
As recounted in the Washington Post, the distinguished CIA officer G. Michael Epperson, who died suddenly and unexpectedly, left a legacy of service that reflects our best national traditions.
I am privileged to have called him a friend over the course of three decades, just entering the fourth.
Sept. 17, 1787, is the date on which the United States Constitution was read and engrossed in final form at the constitutional convention. Benjamin Franklin, then 81 years old, was too frail to make a speech; but his written remarks were read aloud by his fellow-member of the Pennsylvania delegation, James Wilson. At the dawn of the 21st century, with Americans reflecting on first principles, Franklin’s guidance remains timely:
Where can we find them?
The premise–stated or unstated–is that there’s a leadership gap today.
Who can argue against the spectacular failures of leadership in large institutions? They range from the White House and Congress (whether in the hands of the Democrats or Republicans); to Wall Street and back around to Main Street; in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors (including religious institutions); around the world.
It’s easy–perhaps too easy–to find reason for disappointment. And yet… there is also reason for optimism.
It’s often said that these are among the worst of times for leadership… it’s also, arguably, the best of times.
This list is updated quarterly. Please send your suggestions of other inspiring 21st century leaders.