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  • Writer's pictureDeb Macfarlan Enright

The Enduring Legacy of Leadership After Dark

Who showed you the practice of Leadership After Dark?

Do they know how their example inspired you to follow in their footsteps?

Here are mine …

  • A coach and his coaching buddies who saw the barrier of access leaving out a lot of young athletes who would benefit from an organized sport experience.

  • A stay-at-home mom who became the top lay leader in a church outside of Washington, DC. The first woman Chair of the Board of Trustees.

  • A young man leaving promising career opportunities in the Northeast to move to a sleepy new town just waiting to bloom as a business center and as a community of hope to its residents.

Here are their stories -

I created The Macfarlan Group to honor these examples of Leadership After Dark – my Father, my Mum, and my dear brother, Scott in our work to support those determined to make the world better.

Along with two of his Little League coaching buddies Mr. Tom Terrell and Mr. Robert Kaye, my Dad started the Saturday Morning Sports Program in Arlington, Virginia: a completely volunteer program that provided playing fields, courts, coaches, uniforms, and equipment to hundreds of socioeconomically marginalized kids. (Dad's the one in the comely black hat talking with a budding superstar.) Back in the 60’s and 70’s in the shadow of our Nation’s Capital, my Dad and his friends brought the power of sports to young men who could only participate from the sidelines in the organized leagues of football and basketball. The experience of helping Dad was a part of my normal as a child: doing good with others for others.

My Mum, exemplified what women could accomplish in community leadership decades before programs were created to signal to the world that the voices of women are required to best serve entities including neighborhoods, schools, and churches. She was the first woman Chair of the Board of Trustees at Arlington United Methodist Church the church we called home for decades through Scouts, Sunday School, Choir, Spaghetti Dinners, Youth Fellows, and my wedding. Her ascension to the position was based on her undeniable ability and a no nonsense approach to getting things done. I have never watched a person work so hard to get Robert’s Rules of Order absolutely correct, create an agenda that moved to desired outcomes, and supply the materials Board members would need to meet challenges facing the church. She had no idea the immense affect her commitment to excellence had on me.

My brother, who possessed an inordinate amount of patience for his youngest and only sibling, showed me how the smartest person in the room can move into positions of leadership with a grace that leveraged his humanity before his recognized incredible intellect. He disarmed everyone with his gentle ability to get to the core of a challenge and figure out how to maximize the talent at hand to achieve the intended outcomes.

The essence of the Macfarlan name guides my firm and my work.

Their legacy – their examples of Leadership After Dark – serves me and now hopefully you in understanding the effect of the actions of those that go before us and our ability to leverage that for those that follow us.

We are each given opportunities to look around our community to understand where gaps in the quality of life exist for some, listen to established and visionary attempts to fill those gaps, and then look around to understand how best to lean in to help.

My Dad understood that access to the value of involvement in sports in shaping young men had barriers and he removed them.

My Mum understood that in the 1970’s in Northern Virginia, top leadership ever included women let alone found a women leading a Board of Trustees so she worked harder to be better and more prepared than any man could ever hope to be as Chair.

My brother, also a benefactor of my Mum and Dad’s legacy of Leadership After Dark, settled in a new town – Charlotte, North Carolina – and proved that an MIT/Harvard Business School success knew best to learn about the community he hoped to serve by listening, learning, looking, and leaning in to leverage his considerable talents to help organizations in his new hometown through a sincere display of humility rather than approaching his new neighbors as a know-it-all.

It is up to all of us to supply examples of the practice of Leadership After Dark for those that come after us. And as all of us know, they are in desperate need of examples of leadership in all forms including Leadership After Dark.

How will you supply examples of service above self that last beyond your practice of Leadership After Dark?

Deb is the Founder of The Macfarlan Group. She loves learning about leadership through the stories of those who do good to make the world better. This topic of Leadership After Dark feeds into Deb's belief that everyone - no matter their station - has the ability actually the responsibility to lean in to do good to make the world better whether alleviating the hunger of a family, rescuing a discarded dog, or helping a child learn to read. She is collecting these stories to bring to you to spur on action as well as help us understand the intrinsic value of lending one's specific strengths to go do good.

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