Magazine Fall 2023 Lessons from LEAD WHERE YOU STAND


TED LASSO AND YOU: What Exactly Does Moral Leadership Look Like?

DAVID BROOKS returned to Lead Where You Stand in June and reflected on the nature of moral leadership, noting that the United States’ founders understood the need for moral formation in a democracy. Originally, schools sought to develop students’ character by teaching them to restrain selfishness, find purpose in life, and treat each other with kindness and respect. Today, education focuses on career preparation. We need to lean away from this utilitarian lens and more toward a moral one, he said.

The author, columnist and commentator praised the Ted Lasso approach. This TV coach defines success as helping people be the best version of themselves on and off the field and making those around him better.

Everyday actions lie at the core of a moral life, he said: small social skills that help people feel heard. Be with people 100 percent. Be a loud listener. Elicit their life stories by showing interest in them. Such small gestures add up to a moral life.

Social psychologists say human connection makes us happiest. But we think we’ll be awkward in making such connections and underestimate how much people want to talk. Make the first social move, he said. Brooks now speaks to people on planes. He asks, “How did you come to believe this?” rather than, “What do you think about this?” He wants to learn who they really are. The first job is to to put yourself in their standpoint, he said.

People change only when they feel heard and understood. How can we create an atmosphere of hospitality where people are eager to share themselves and show compassion? A wise person can help you see yourself in new ways.

Brooks deplored the destructive trope toward negativity in our society and the media. We think we’re telling a story of decline, but the facts don’t bear that out, he said. It reinforces the mood of negativity and bitterness toward one another. We live at a time when a lot is changing all at once, much of it for the better. Still he understands why people are unnerved, as it’s a deeply problematic time. He urges us not to underestimate ourselves.


A doctor and public health official, CHARITY DEAN learned to act decisively in responding to outbreaks, first with Santa Barbara County and then as assistant director of the California Department of Public Health. She willingly risked her career by making quick, unprecedented decisions to contain meningitis and tuberculosis at UC Santa Barbara, then operated under the radar to care for sick migrants in San Diego, always seeking to act with integrity and do the next right thing. She learned the hard way by being willing to take risks and step forward.

She repeats two mantras as she responds to emergencies: “I’m objectively unqualified to do this, but all I need to do is be willing.” When she faces difficult, challenging situations, she makes a list: “I’m grateful this is happening because I’m going to learn so much, including ... .”

Dean helped lead California’s strategy and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and rapidly expanded testing in the state. Early on, she looked in vain for data-science tools to assist in managing the crisis. She then connected with people at advanced tech companies, outlined the parameters for the model she envisioned and sought someone qualified to build it. Lining up venture capital and hiring a team, she cofounded the Public Health Company to develop software for the public and private sectors to use in managing future outbreaks of infectious diseases. She serves as its CEO.

“The U.S. response to COVID-19 was a failure,” Dean says. “The people were great; the system was not. I’m grateful the pandemic revealed problems with the public health response we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. We now have an opportunity to build a system that works. How often do you get the opportunity to create something completely new?

CAN VIRTUE BE TAUGHT? Ethics and Morality in the Public Square

PRESIDENT GAYLE D. BEEBE drew on Greek philosophers, Christian thinkers and contemporary authors to reflect on teaching virtue through structured learning and the development of good habits. Now that society has shifted from pursuing virtue to focusing on values — leaving meaning up for grabs — he explored ways we can reconstitute moral authority in our society.

Aristotle believed that habits, such as continually seeking the right over the wrong, lead to intellectual virtue. Augustine urged the right ordering of our loves to help us turn from being self-centered to being God-centered. Beebe advocated for a structured way of learning that follows a predictable order and allows the mind to develop appropriately. As we think properly of all areas of knowledge, we can better understand God, he said. The traditional liberal arts help us balance competing commitments to contribute to the greater good of society, thereby teaching us virtue and preparing us for leadership.

American democracy works when we learn to live together with difference, with values and virtue to sustain us, he said.


MARCUS “GOODIE” GOODLOE defined leadership as moving people from here to there, as Martin Luther King Jr. did. A scholar, mentor, speaker and author, Goodloe described King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as one of most consequential writings in history. It addressed the nation’s failure to make good on its promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all citizens and called for an end of segregation in all public places.

King invited the masses to join the struggle for civil rights to achieve equal treatment under the law. People responded and put their bodies and lives on the line, Goodloe said. King showed the moral clarity of protest and nonviolent direct action, writing that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Combining planning and praying, King never substituted prayer for work and intelligence. History can happen through us and not just to us; we’re all responsible for ending injustice, Goodloe said. We need to have great love; it’s the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. He urged all to get involved in something greater than themselves and never grow weary of doing good.


Provost KIMBERLY BATTLE-WALTERS DENU spoke about the importance of being willing and shared lessons from her first year at Westmont.

When the odds are against you, you can rise to the top. Her grandmother said that God doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies those he calls.

Face your giant just as David faced Goliath. Understand what you’re confronting — and what you’re afraid of.

Lead authentically; be yourself, use your own armor and know both your strengths and weaknesses.

Your disadvantage is your advantage; being underestimated helped David prevail.

Your past prepares you for your future. David spent years protecting sheep, and Denu became a bridge between faith and intellect in her family and with people from different races, ethnicities and cultures, seeing things from other perspectives and political views.

Be productive by slowing down. David didn’t rush into battle. He saw, heard, assessed and acted, and good leadership requires us to do all four.

Read more about the speakers and program at Lead Where You Stand at

SAVE THE DATE for the 10th Lead Where You Stand: June 6-8, 2024