Sean Bode, ’05


Courageously vulnerable

“All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” This Winston Churchill quote encapsulates the importance of positive leadership, a principle embodied by Sean Bode, ’05. As a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, Bode works to enhance the holistic well-being of service members, drawing from his personal experiences to guide others.

Just months after earning his degree in leadership studies, Bode led a platoon through the urban landscape of Baghdad. There, he put his studies into practice, particularly the concept of servant leadership. Afterward, Bode’s transition to civilian life presented a different set of challenges.

“The mental shift from my initial reasons for joining the military — purpose, mission, and camaraderie, which were positive and aspirational — contrasted sharply with the realities that followed,” Bode said. He continues to navigate this path for himself while aiding others with similar journeys.

“War is inherently a human affair.”

Preparing for service involves meeting individuals where they are, comprehending their motivations for joining the military, and guiding them to become ethical leaders. “People may join with idealistic intentions of helping others, but the harsh reality is that you may witness horrific events that you are powerless to prevent,” Bode said. “Atrocities occur just beyond the gates, and engagement is not always an option.”

In addressing mental health issues, which are often stigmatized, empathy is Bode’s most valuable tool. “War is inherently a human affair,” he stated.

Bode finds inspiration in the approach of leadership researcher Brené Brown, noting, “Courageous vulnerability and authenticity are key.” As both a scholar and practitioner of leadership, Bode is committed to fostering honesty and advocacy among service members, inviting them into a shared journey of ethical responsibility.