Episode 50 | Character, Virtue & Leadership with Michael Lamb

Character, Virtue, and Leadership with Michael Lamb

The increasing conflict, chaos, and moral confusion of our time has made leadership more challenging, and the role of character increasingly questioned. What does it mean to lead wisely and well? Is successful leadership defined by “winning”? How is trust built in a cynical age, and is there a place for virtue?

The Link Between Virtue and Leadership

Wake Forest professor, author, and director of the The Program for Leadership and Character, Michael Lamb helps us wrestle with these questions by exploring the link between virtue and wise leadership, and showing how character formation enables leaders to establish trust, think wisely, empower others, and persevere through difficult times

If we do care about our social fabric, if we care about our communal flourishing, we need the virtues that help us build meaningful relationships. We need empathy and we need humility to recognize our limits. And we need courage and justice, and we need other virtues. And I think in that context, I think what’s really important is to recognize that.

Character matters and it matters for our flourishing, but also it can actually lead to more effective results.

Defining Leadership and Character

In addition to helpfully defining leadership and character, Michael offers insight into why we often prefer unscrupulous or brash leaders in public while seeking friends of virtue. Drawing on Augustine, Michael reminds us that we aren’t victims of our times, but instead have an active, hopeful role to play in shaping the character of our communities in our time.

This podcast is an edited version of our Online Conversation from February, 2023. You can access the full conversation with transcript here.

Learn more about Michael Lamb.

Authors and books mentioned in the conversation:

Anthony Kronman
Harry Lewis
Return on Character: The Real Reason Leaders and Their Companies Win, Fred Kiel
Richard Reeves
The Road to Character, David Brooks
St. Augustine of Hippo
Martin Luther King Jr.
The Courage to Teach, Parker Palmer

Related Trinity Forum Readings:

Crisis-Ready Leadership Collection
The Confessions of St. Augustine

Related Conversations:

Leadership in Tumultuous Times with Ron C. White
Lincoln in Private with Ron C. White
Crisis Ready Leadership
Redeeming Power with Diane Langberg
Character, Virtue, & Leadership with Michael Lamb

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Special thanks to Ned Bustard for our podcast artwork.