Published on March 4, 2020 by Sarah Cain  

As the founder of the non-profit, faith-based Center for Executive Leadership in Birmingham, Richard Simmons has committed his life to providing spiritual and leadership guidance to people across the country.

 While it’s a role he was called to later in life after 25 years in the insurance industry, it’s clear Simmons had been serving others in this capacity for years prior.

Simmons shared his professional and spiritual journey with students as the second guest to be interviewed by University President Andrew Westmoreland in the leadership interview series, “For the Good,” sponsored through the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership

“God’s gift He gave me was the gift of teaching,” he said.

That gift and the desire for more time with his family led him to combine his love of ministry with his professional expertise to launch The Center for Executive Leadership. The center offers multiple bible studies for groups and individuals. During the interview, he shared some of the guiding principles he explores in ministry. 

“You can be a leader and you can be a Christian out in the secular world and you can make a difference,” he said. 

He went on to describe the traits of successful leaders including humility, fearlessness, wisdom and the ability to make hard decisions. 

“The most important leadership quality is humility in my opinion, without a doubt,” he said. “Humility involves modesty and not having a desire for glory for yourself. Real leaders are also proactive and can make hard decisions. It’s so easy to make a decision that is popular to make everyone you lead like you, but great leaders don’t make choices based on what’s popular. They make decisions based on what is right.”

Simmons most recently authored Reflections on the Existence of God, a series of short essays seeking to answer life’s most enduring question: Does God exist?

The “For the Good” series is sponsored through the Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership, bringing guests to the campus to provide practical guidance on ethical decision making.    

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 37th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 97th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,758 students from 48 states and 22 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 3rd nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.