Since 2003, Senior Fellows and Friends has been a conversation over a meal, a mailing list, and an idea. Begun to keep in touch with other 2002 Excellence in Government Fellows Program graduates (“Senior Fellows”), who kept showing up for learning dialogue with individuals we identified as doing something special, SFF continues to attract new friends in all sorts of interesting places. This network has always crossed sectors, since those who work in the public interest or who want to make a difference are to be found everywhere. It has always included a few who do their work elsewhere and rarely, if ever, go to Washington. Most importantly, it has always included people who exercise leadership behavior from wherever they are, whether or not they occupy organizational positions or hold titles that imply, “Leader.”
That matters now more than ever, because we need for everyone to show up with everything they’ve got in order to meet the challenges of the day. People have different gifts, histories, needs, and paths. Those who are able to get results through influence can sometimes have more impact than those who are able to get results only by having positional authority. When one path and one set of people are prized over another by the organization – as is often still the case – it does harm, demoralizing and reducing capacity instead of heartening and engaging for high performance. Our ongoing effort is dedicated to all who “show up,” from executive to manager-of-one, who do the best they can with what they have in the service of others.