Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

December 18, 2013

It’s not about you

Gen. Hugh Shelton
Chris Hitch

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final post in a six-part series exploring values-based leadership by Chris Hitch, director of the Gen. H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center. 

Gen. Shelton emphasizes that all values-based leaders have an obligation to give back. It doesn’t matter whether you are a student or a working professional; you have an obligation to work to make your corner of the world a better place. He urges us to “be bigger than ourselves, to give back to our community, and to our state, and even to our nation.” 

He reminds us that there are multiple opportunities to do this in small and large ways. Corporations and nonprofits mutually benefit from these partnerships. Corporations’ reputations are enhanced by giving back to the community. Nonprofits, by their very existence, are known for their mission-driven programs to the community.

A signature programs at the Shelton Leadership Center is the Shelton Challenge, which has selfless service as a key program component. Twice a year (in addition to their other volunteer efforts), our Shelton Scholars go to a particular town for a Weekend of Service, where they partner with local civic organizations to build wheelchair ramps, clean blighted areas or help in other ways. We partner with NC State’s Center for Student Leadership, Ethics & Public Service to support them in their student service learning and leadership efforts. I’ve been in awe of high school students who volunteer to help those with disabilities in and out of school.

I’m not highlighting these to boast about different Shelton programs are doing (although I am incredibly humbled and impressed with our tireless staff , board and many students and how they each live out this cornerstone daily). I’m emphasizing that there are lots of ways to give and give back in a community. As Gen. Shelton urges, “that is a part of what each and every one of us from the corporate level right down to the individual should be doing.”

Values based leadership—It’s not about you. 

What situations have you found where giving back to the community gives you an even greater gift?

Chris Hitch, Ph.D., is director of the Gen. H. Hugh Shelton Leadership Center and program director of the Poole College of Management Executive Education at North Carolina State University.

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