From Sig Berg, President/CEO
I have been asked a number of times, “How did the Severn Leadership Group (SLG) come about?” My short answer is, “It was a long time in coming!”
Our world faces challenges on almost every front — terrorism, economic turmoil, polarized politics and communities, global warming, poverty, and the list goes on. And solutions are needed for all of them. Unfortunately, too many leaders seem to be more interested in serving their own interests, than working to bring people together, building consensus, and developing solutions.
On a more personal level many of us are struggling with our own jobs and families. The work environment is not always conducive to developing a highly motivated and engaged workforce, building teamwork, or maintaining clear lines of responsibility. A passion for serving the customer with excellent services or products can be overshadowed by personal or financial self-interest by us or by seniors. We have many questions, but seemingly few remedies. So how do we navigate the vagaries of the workplace? Can compassion and excellence coexist in an organization? How can we make a difference? Can one have a challenging and rewarding career and a happy family at the same time?
Finally, and perhaps even more disconcerting, character traits like courage, humility, and integrity do not seem to matter very much these days. So what can we do? I know there are no quick fixes or easy answers, but I believe that “the future can be better than the present and that I have a personal and moral responsibility to make it so.” Applying what I have learned as a naval officer, parish pastor, an executive in the global nuclear power industry, and the work in leadership development with college students, and young nuclear professionals from around the world, together with advice of the experienced leaders cited below – the seeds for the Severn Leadership Group (SLG) were sown.
In the Fall of 2011 a small group of seasoned leaders from business, sports, academia, and the military met to develop the work of the SLG. We concluded that whatever we did had to have practical applicability, be personally challenging, and academically sound.
The first nine month SLG Fellows Program was launched in the Fall of 2012.
Those early discussions, along with advice and feedback from advisors, fellows, and others who share a common vision, have shaped what the SLG is today. I would summarize it this way:
- The Severn Leadership Group’s leadership perspective is centered on a systems-based approach to leadership and followership — grounded in four basic precepts:
- Leadership and followership are defined by one’s character
- Leadership and followership are relational in nature
- Character is shaped by a timeless and transcendent set of core virtues
- Selfless courage and service to others is not a style of leadership, but a learned behavior
Organizationally, the Severn Leadership Group is composed of professionals known as “fellows” and “senior fellows.”
- Each SLG fellow has a mentor whom we define as a friend, coach, advisor, encourager, and listener. Each mentor would be a senior fellow who is an executive, military officer or professional with significant leadership and life experience. He/she is a person committed to serving others with excellence.
- Each year a group of selected professionals become SLG Fellows and participate in a nine-month fellowship program that is designed to be both practical, personal, and academic. There is no program fee for participants.
As the SLG has matured so have the goals of the Fellows’ Program. They are:
- Understanding of:
- The SLG systems-approach to leadership and followership
- Character as the core to both leadership and followership
- Deeper sense of self, purpose, and the need for an integrated authentic life
- Developing behaviors that reflect the core virtues of love, integrity, truth, excellence, and the importance of healthy relationships
- Commitment to a life of selfless courage and service to others
- Passion for a mission, a purpose, a cause
- Practical ability to:
- Lead and follow
- Build relationships and trust
- Build high performance teams (cells of excellence)
- Focus on building a team and not a career
- Discover the on-going resources of the SLG
As we continue to evolve, our long term aim is to develop a worldwide SLG Network dedicated to providing support, resources and encouragement to the Fellows of the SLG wherever they may serve in the world.
With SLG Fellows and Senior Fellows serving around the world, we can begin the real work of the SLG – shaping a future that is better than the present so that all people can begin to experience a life of hope, freedom, and well-being.