Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Special News--March 2023


Global Integration Updates 
Special News--March 2023
Issue 81
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 Global Integration Updates
Common Ground for the Common Good 
Be the people we need--Build the world we need

Special News--March 2023
Developing Character Strengths
Being the Leaders Our World Needs

Pope Francis kisses the feet of rival leaders in South Sudan
--Salva Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar--on 11 April 2019

“...character is a variation on three recurring motifs--core, consistency, and cost” (p 16). It is “the essential ‘stuff’ that [a person] is made of, the inner reality in which thoughts, speech, decisions, behavior, and relations are rooted....A person’s core character is best seen in what he or she reveals consistently rather than in a single statement or a random act....Consistent core-character is normally formed best and revealed most clearly in the crucible of testing. Hence the cost.” (pp. 15-16) When No One Sees, Os Guinness and Virginia Mooney Withrow

In this Update we share various resources to help support the development of character with a special focus on leadership
. Specifically, we feature Character, Virtue, and Leadershipan insightful conversation with Michael Lamb, the Executive Director of the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University, organized by The Trinity Forum (17 February 2023--60 minute video). One of the main resources highlighted in this conversation was the research on Seven Strategies for Character Development(Part One)

We also share additional resources to help summon and shape the character strengths needed for "being the leaders our world needs" and which are also highly relevant broadly for "being the people our world needs
." Note that this Update emphasizes character as being more dispositional than situational--yet without minimizing the role that social and environmental factors can have in influencing everything from pro-social to anti-social behaviors. (Part Two)

We finish this Update with some personal reflections on being "people of faith-hope-love" in the Christian tradition who embrace "common ground for the common good
."  (Part Three)

Suggested Applications--Making It Personal

  • Watch the recent 60 minute video, Character, Virtue, and Leadership. List a few of the main take-aways for you as well as any points that you might want to clarify or challenge. 
  • Review the additional resources related to character strengths--historical perspectives on leadership character, principles and tools from positive psychology, and leadership transparency and accountability. What might you want to explore further?
  • Share this Update with your colleagues, organization(s), and networks. Discuss practical applications for your life and work. 

Going further--see these Global Integration Updates:
--Moral Health for a More Whole World (June 2022)
Tough Times. Tougher People: Best Selves–Better World (October 2020)
Everyday Global Heroes: Moral Lives Matter (August 2017)

Warm greetings,
Kelly and Michèle


Featured Resources
Part One

Developing Character Strengths
Being the Leaders Our World Needs

Externally, character provides the point of trust that links leaders and followers. Internally, character is the part-gyroscope, part brake that provides the leader’s deepest source of bearings and strongest source of restraint. In many instances the first prompting to do good and the last barrier in doing wrong are the same--character.” (p.26) When No One Sees, Os Guinness and Virginia Mooney Withrow  


Character, Virtue, and Leadership (17 February 2023, 60 minutes video).
"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? Wake Forest professor, author, and director of the Program for Leadership and CharacterMichael Lamb wrestles with such 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. The Trinity Forum held an Online Conversation on February 17 with Michael to better understand how character is formed, why it matters, and how it can contribute to personal, communal, and civic flourishing."

One of the main resources featured was the research on Seven Strategies for Character Development “that have been identified through a rigorous analysis of research in philosophy, psychology, education, and other fields.” Note that these strategies are described in the context of university and graduate students yet have clear applications to people everywhere including the mission community. See the link for a fuller description of the strategies and more information on the research. The seven strategies are:

--1. Habituation through practice
--2. Reflection on personal experience
--3. Engagement with virtuous exemplars
--4. Dialogue that increases virtue literacy
--5. Awareness of situational variables and biases
--6. Moral reminders
--7. Friendships of mutual accountability.

The Trinity Forum (TTF): "Contributing to the renewal of society by cultivating and promoting the best of Christian thought, and helping leaders to think, work, and lead wisely and well. We believe that the distraction, incivility, polarization, and pathology of our age stems in part from the lack of spiritual and character formation in leaders. There are few opportunities to grapple with, reflect on, and discuss fully what matters most. The Trinity Forum endeavors to cultivate, curate, and disseminate the best of Christian thought, to equip leaders to think, work, and lead wisely and well." (quote from website) 

Note that TTF offers many online archives of conversations (
videos and podcasts) featuring a variety of thought leaders and scholars who include Christian, philosophical, ethical, and scientific perspectives as they discuss many of the challenging issues of our times. See also their curated list of Readings that include “the best of classic literature and letters, introduced by today’s experts, and tailored for individual reflection.”

Part Two
Developing Character Strengths

More Resources

Pope Francis kisses the feet of rival leaders in South Sudan
--Salva Kiir Mayardit and Riek Machar--on 11 April 2019

“Clearly, for anyone who acknowledges the critical place of character at such great moments in history, talk of character today is neither a pious cliché nor a luxury topic that is irrelevant in an age of deadlines and bottom lines.  Character is an immense challenge personally as well as culturally....Few issues in our time are more important than the proper place of character for individuals and society...” (pp. 28, 29) When No One Sees, Os Guinness and Virginia Mooney Withrow
When No One Sees: Character and Leadership in an Age of Image (2007). Edited by Os Guinness and Virginia Mooney Withrow. Readers Guide by Karen Lee-Thorp. This is a compilation of short biographies about and/or writings from 28 historical figures, ranging from Alexander the Great to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Its 28 chapters are interspersed with dozens and dozens of related quotes from a wide range of influential, historical figures. The chapters are divided into five parts:

--The Importance of Character
--Character in the Crucible
--Cultural Erosions of Character
--Spiritual Foundations for Strong Character
--Heroes of Character.

Virtues and Character Strengths–Resources from Positive Psychology
“Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.” This quote is from the 
Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Also see the related materials from the Authentic Happiness website including free self-assessments for wellbeing, character strengths, and virtues, etc. 

Integrity and Accountability for United Nations StaffPart One–Navigating the Terrain, UN Special  (March 2017) and Part Two—Staying the Course, UN Special (April 2017). Kelly O’Donnell. “The UN has 17 core competencies. The two discussed in this article are particularly helpful for guiding us through the myriad of moral challenges—internal and external—in UN work. As both a psychologist and a UN representative for the World Federation for Mental Health, I am keenly curious about what helps bring out the best and the worst of my colleagues in the UN and other sectors. And myself. I am especially interested in how the UN’s approach to competencies and values, and in particular the moral-based areas of integrity and accountability, can support staff as they traverse the troubled terrain of our world.”

Note that the UN Special is now called UN Today (“the official magazine of international civil servants”). Magazine issues from 2018-current are archived on its 

Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor (2008). Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and James O'Toole, with Patricia Ward Biederman. This book has really influenced our perspectives and practices for developing leaders and organizations of integrity and at times for confronting deviance in leaders and organizations. Transparency includes candor, integrity, honesty, ethics, clarity, full disclosure, legal compliance, and other things that allow us to deal fairly with one another.” (p. vii)

We have included four excerpts from the book below. You can find additional excerpts that we have chosen HERE. See also the video lecture related to the book by joint-author James O'Toole HERE (about one hour).

--"No matter the official line, true transparency is rare. Many organizations pay lip service to values of openness and candor, even writing their commitment into mission statements. Too often they are hollow…and inspire frustration, even cynicism, in followers all too aware of very different organizational reality.” (p. 4) 

 “But legislation alone [the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the USA] cannot make organizations open and healthy. Only the character and will of those who run them and participate in them can do that….If a culture of collusion exists instead of a culture of candor, participants will find ways around the rules, new or old, however stringent.” (p. 8)

"…[This large-scale] study revealed that [whistleblowers] almost always found the courage to speak out in their deep commitment to the core values of the organization. Even when labeled traitors by their colleagues, such tellers of unsettling truths often feel passionate loyalty to the organization and act because they feel the secret activity violates its mission and ethical core.” (10)

"But at any time an organization makes a seriously wrong decision, its leaders should call for an intensive postmortem. Such learning opportunities are too often overlooked. The tendency is simply to call on the public relations department to spin the mater, to make another inadequately thought-out decision, and perhaps to scapegoat, even fire, a few staff members. Because most companies cover up their mistakes instead of learning from them, systemic flaws in information flow tend to remain to do their damage another day." (pp. 22-23)

Part Three
Personal Reflections
Being People of Faith-Hope-Love

Image courtesy and © ENOD 2016--California USA Coastline

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.
This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, 1964

As people of faith who practice Christian spirituality, we are committed to responsibly engage with others in the challenges facing our world, locally through globally, while holding firmly to our belief that we are in God's hands. We pray that God's purposes "will be done on earth as they are in heaven;" acknowledge that prayer, repentance, and relationship with God are key to human-planetary wellbeing; and live in hope for the time when God through Jesus Christ will decisively intervene in human history with equity--righteousness and justice--to restore all things. And in the meantime, we seek to embrace lifestyles of integrity that prioritize a deep, practical love for truth, peace, and people.

We do not want to further problematize our world's plight by focusing primarily on the negative. Rather we want to also promote the many examples of the good going forward, as people of integrity find common ground for the common good. 

Finally, we want to highlight that the despair and disillusion that result from seemingly intractable problems like corruption can also be quite positiveThey can embody a crucial existential message about reality that can be "revisited"--explored and heeded--rather than simply "resisted." They can point us to Someone who is bigger than ourselves, the SDGs, humanity, and our world--the knowable, Eternal One who is both in and beyond space-time and who loves us all dearly. 

The above thoughts build upon the Personal Reflections in Perils, Paralysis, Hope: Sustainable Development-Sustainable Destruction? (Global Integration Update, October 2022).

Member Care Associates

Member Care Associates Inc. (MCA) is a non-profit, Christian organization working internationally from Geneva and the USA. MCA's involvement in Global Integration focuses on the wellbeing and effectiveness of personnel and their organizations across sectors (e.g., mission, humanitarian, peace, health, and development sectors) as well as global mental health and integrity/anti-corruption, all with a view towards collaboratively supporting sustainable development for all people and the planet. Our services include consultation, training, research, resource development, and publications.
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Global Integration
Global Integration (GI) is a framework for actively and responsibly engaging in our world--locally to globally. It emphasizes connecting relationally and contributing relevantly on behalf of human wellbeing and the issues facing humanity, in light of our integrity, commitments, and core values (e.g., ethical, humanitarian, human rights, faith-based). GI encourages a variety of people to be at the “global tables” and in the "global trenches"--and everything in-between--in order to help research, shape, and monitor agendas, policies, and action for all people and the planet. It intentionally links building the world we need with being the people we need.
Our Global Integration Updates are designed to help shape and support the emerging diversity of global integrators who as learners-practitioners are committed to the "common ground for the common good."  2015-current (75+ issues). Some examples of foundational ones:

June 2017
Living in Global Integrity--April 2017
Peace and Security--December 2016
Global Citizenship--June 2016
Faith-Based Partners in Transformation--August 2015

Global Pearl
The image at the top of the Update (global pearl) is a cover detail from our edited book, 
Global Member Care (volume 2): Crossing Sectors for Serving Humanity (2013). William Carey Library. 
Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability;
it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be coworkers with God,
and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. 

Martin Luther King, Jr., 
Letter from a Birmingham Jail (April 1963)
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