Article Toolbar


Editor's Note
Steve Charles

A View from the Bridge

"there is one man who, in the hour of emergency or peril at sea, can turn to no other man. There is one alone who is ultimately responsible for the safe navigation, engineering performance, accurate gunfire, and morale of his ship. He is the Commanding Officer. He is the ship."
-Joseph Conrad

In this issue of Wabash Magazine, we've profiled seven alumni at the helm of their organizations, gleaning from them a perspective of leadership from the captain's chair-A View from the Bridge.

One of those men, Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith '68, hesitates to discuss the topic of leadership with students because "they occasionally confuse leadership with authority-as if the person in charge is automatically the leader." Goldsmith defines leadership as "the ability to stake out a principle, to think analytically about how to accomplish that principle, and to motivate people so that they can have victories accomplishing activities consistent with that principle."

By that definition, most Wabash men are leaders-in their families, their congregations, their vocations, and their communities.

The subjects of our profiles fit Goldsmith's definition and are also men "in charge." And in an era when society seems to clamor for leadership while at the same time denigrating its leaders, we felt it was time to pay some attention to them.

True to their Wabash roots, they are not defined by their positions as captains, managing principals, presidents, or chairmen-their tenure is re-defining these positions for those they lead. The most revealing glimpses we get of their leadership abilities often occur "outside" established roles: John Bachmann's time- and energy-intensive commitment to the arts in his city; Commander Ron Thomas recording stories for his children to listen to when he's far from home; Clay Robbins gardening with his kids to teach them the "process" of good works.

For this issue we also gathered a group of Wabash alumni, students, and faculty to engage in one of the College's oldest traditions-the classroom discussion. The topic was leadership, its qualities, and the Wabash approach to encouraging these traits. We think you'll you find their answers-and the cameraderie displayed by these men, many of whom had not met before-enlightening and encouraging.

As always, I invite you to join in that conversation. Feel free to praise, criticize, or disagree with anything you read in this journal. Ours is only the first word in this discussion. We look forward to hearing yours.

Steve Charles