Dr. Donna Ladkin is a professor of leadership and ethics at Antioch University. She is an internationally recognized leadership and ethics scholar whose philosophically-informed publications explore aesthetic, ethical, and embodied aspects of organizing and leading. Her theoretical work is underpinned by a strong commitment to the realm of practice and is informed by extensive consulting experience in both public and private organizations. Her current research focuses on exploring the structural and organizational dynamics which limit follower and leader agency within organizations, particularly in relation to their desire to act ethically.
Dr. Cherie Bridges Patrick is a leadership coach and educator, consultant, clinical social worker, and founder of Paradox Cross-Cultural Consulting, Training & Empowerment LLC. Cherie combines nearly 12 years of trauma experience with relational neuroscience to heal racial and social trauma, repair and build relationships with the goal of normalizing, generative justice-centered dialogue. Dr. Patrick has extensive experience in community mental health and engaging with immigrant families around the complexities and trauma of global displacement and resettlement. Her research examined how subtle and nuanced racial dominance was reproduced by justice-seeking professionals in day-to-day workplace discourses. She has also co-authored publications around racial dominance and racial justice in leadership.
Dr. Marion Missy McGee is a research practitioner who specializes in expanding and reframing conventional narratives to create more equitable leadership ecosystems. As an organizational strategist, she administers the design, implementation, and evaluation of domestic and international programmatic initiatives for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, located in Washington, D.C. Marion’s scholarly research contributes to closing the gap between race and leadership through a multidimensional lens while amplifying lesser-known histories, increasing unexplored narrative exemplars, and providing greater empirical evidence from the vantage point of African American leaders.
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Note: Voice-to-text transcriptions are about 90% accurate
Scott Allen 0:00
Okay everyone, welcome to the Phronesis podcast wherever you are in the world. Thanks for tuning in very much appreciated. Three guests today.
I have Dr. Donna Ladkin. She is anIs an internationally recognized leadership and ethics scholar whose philosophically-informed publications explore aesthetic, ethical, and embodied aspects of organizing and leading. Her theoretical work is underpinned by a strong commitment to the realm of practice and is informed by extensive consulting experience in both public and private organizations. Her current research focuses on exploring the structural and organizational dynamics which limit follower and leader agency within organizations, particularly in relation to their desire to act ethically. Her work is published in the top journals across the globe, and we are excited to have her with us.
We also have Dr. Cherie Bridges Patrick. She is a leadership coach and educator, consultant, clinical social worker, and founder of Paradox Cross-Cultural Consulting, Training & Empowerment LLC. Cherie combines nearly 12 years of trauma experience with relational neuroscience to heal racial and social trauma, repair and build relationships with the goal of normalizing, generative justice-centered dialogue. Dr. Patrick has extensive experience in community mental health and engaging with immigrant families around the complexities and trauma of global displacement and resettlement. Her research examined how subtle and nuanced racial dominance was reproduced by justice-seeking professionals in day-to-day workplace discourses. She has also co-authored publications around racial dominance and racial justice in leadership.
We also have Dr. Marion “Missy” McGee. She is a research practitioner who specializes in expanding and reframing conventional narratives to create more equitable leadership ecosystems. As an organizational strategist, she administers the design, implementation, and evaluation of domestic and international programmatic initiatives for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), located in Washington, D.C. Marion’s scholarly research contributes to closing the gap between race and leadership through a multidimensional lens while amplifying lesser-known histories, increasing unexplored narrative exemplars, and providing greater empirical evidence from the vantage point of African American leaders.
Now, we are going to begin today our conversation. Cherie and Donna have just had an article published. And I think we're going to talk about this article today. And that's really where we're going to start a conversation. But then we're going to also move into some paths forward from what was discussed in the article. And the article was just published in the journal leadership. So we're going to provide you a link in the show notes. The article is titled Whiteness in Leadership Theorizing: A Critical Analysis of Race in Bass' Transformational Leadership Theory. I am so excited about this conversation. Cherie, Donna, maybe the two of you could share a little bit about the source of this paper, how did this paper come about, and then maybe we can explore some of the major contents that you think listeners would be interested in.
Donna Ladkin 3:23
So first of all, Scott, thanks so much. And it's a delight to be with you this afternoon, and a delight to be sharing the platform with my two good friends and colleagues, Cherie and Missy as well. So I'm just really pleased to be here. What I wanted to say by way of starting off in thinking about how we came to write this paper is just to say that my own work. I call myself a reluctant leadership scholar. My own work has pretty much been around problematizing kinds of conventional and traditional ways of looking at leadership and how leadership has been theorized. So I think as much time that I spent trying to think about what leadership is I've tried to think about how traditional ways of thinking about leadership actually don't work. And so I've really kind of taken a very critical stance in looking at much leadership theorizing. More recently, my critical eye has turned to the way in which race is very rarely actually spoken about within leadership, theorizing. But at the same time, it's very much there, in terms of much-theorized leadership theorizing is written from a particular racial perspective, and that is a white perspective. And I've actually started looking at well, what does that mean? And how can we expose that? And also if that is true, then what should we be looking at, as well as kind of white models of theorizing? What other kinds of ways should we be looking at this phenomenon that would bring in more, which wouldn't just be looking at it from this white perspective. So that's really how my work has developed to the point of writing this paper. And when Cherie and I share a passion for critical discourse, analysis, and for looking at the ways in which language both illuminates, but also hides. And the way in which, when we use language, any language that we use is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of many assumptions, power dynamics, and other relationships that underpin it. Cherie's going to talk about her own work, I'm sure in a bit, but you know, just to say that we share this passion. And so one way of starting to address what's going on and leadership theorizing was to take critical discourse analysis, looking at theories of leadership, that we, you know, generally just don't even think about in terms of what's underneath them, and actually start unpacking them from a critical race perspective. So that I'll, I'll start there, and that Cherie will tell her part of the story.
Scott Allen 6:32
I learned so much reading this article. And I think, Donna, you summarized it beautifully, illuminates but also hides. And what hit me yesterday, on the couch, as I read a passage to my wife saying, Oh, my gosh, wow. And so I think that illuminates but also hides, it just it's really a powerful statement, it is because you're helping me see things I hadn't seen.
Donna Ladkin 7:04
It's really interesting, because as I was thinking about this conversation, yesterday, I was out on a walk and thinking about this conversation. And one of the things that I was thinking about is, you know, with theorizing of any kind, it's important to ask, you know, whose purposes are served by the person doing the trizing? You know, whose purpose? So, you know, when we think about leadership theories, and some of the, you know, older leadership theories, like, you know, literally "great man," leadership, theorizing, you know, what purpose or whose purpose that so no course, that whole theory serves the purposes of a ruling class, where the idea is that leaders are born not made, and you can pass this ability to be a leader down through generations. And basically, that's who is supported by great man theory. And if you go through, you know, every theory, it's actually serving someone's purpose. And so for me, doing this kind of analysis is really important, because then it begs the question, okay, first, we have to understand what purpose is being served? And then we can think about, do we want to align ourselves with that? Is there another purpose we want to be serving? And maybe we should look to those kinds of theories instead.
Scott Allen 8:20
Cherie Bridges Patrick 8:22
Thank you for the invitation to be here. And thank you, Donna, for summarizing that. That was just beautiful, and I and I'm glad that you highlighted, Scott, the ways that language discourse, both illuminates, and hides. You've already spoken about my research a little bit it because what it did was really look at what was happening underneath the words. And, and in my research, I was able to pull out some themes and some discourses that traced conversations just day-to-day conversations of social workers, justice-seeking, social workers. And so it found all these subtleties, all these nuances of race, and racial dominance, just operating all the time. It was just like when you pull it out, it just becomes so obvious. What happens is, like Donna said, there's a way that language and discourses foreground things and make things very obvious, in a way that it backgrounds things that it does - and this is all about the whiteness - how it operates right to foreground and background. And so yes, this is where Donna and I have a shared passion and we've had so many lively conversations around how whiteness operates. It's always there. And I'm starting to look at whiteness as an embodied, the somatics, of whiteness, and so that's a conversation on Love to have at some point?
Scott Allen 10:01
Well, maybe the two of you could begin, you're setting your sights on transformational leadership. And what were some insights that maybe the two of you hadn't expected to discover, as you began really exploring?
Donna Ladkin 10:15
So I think to start with, I just like to honor the work of Helena Liu, who is one of the first leadership scholars to really start to tackle this area. And I think it was a paper that she wrote, looking at Australian philanthropists, and how different habits of whiteness were apparent in the way in which these philanthropists were represented both in text but also pictorially. And that work made us start to think, "Oh, could we do a similar thing?" But looking at leadership theory, and I think we started off wanting to tackle all leadership theory, right?
Scott Allen 11:00
Just go one by one.
Donna Ladkin 11:04
But it became clear that we needed to really do I mean, the beauty of discourse analysis. And I don't know Cherie wants to come in here. But it is about looking at specific bits of text. So it's not about generalities, it is about looking at the very specific bits of text and diving deeply into that text. And so we decided that we would focus on transformational leadership. I think, again, this came from an article written by two other scholars working in the field, Erica Foldy and Sonia Ospina, and they wrote a wonderful paper, which I know also informed Missy's work, which was looking at race in leadership and how it's theorized and they were the first ones that brought to my attention, some of the ways in which Bernard Bass was talking about race and leadership. And the way that he was talking about it was just...I read it...and this was his last text that he wrote in 2008. And, of course, his earlier works on Transformational Leadership, some of the most well-cited and, you know, his book is basically one of the bibles of leadership theory, and some of the things that he was writing in relation to, you know, his sense-making about why there were fewer African Americans in positions of executive leadership in the US and attributing this to lower IQ scores on the part of African Americans. And it's my, my talk about somatic reaction, I was reading his work and my heart was beating really fast and thinking, "oh, no, when this was written in 2008!"
Scott Allen 12:44
Yes, and you all, you all come out strong with that analysis, right out of the gates, that just caught my attention, I thought, wow, I, and again, to the, to the point of, you know, what's going on underneath the words, you all do a beautiful job of taking even a paragraph or a passage and illuminating? Hey, you need to see this. And I hadn't seen it. Does that make sense?
Cherie Bridges Patrick 13:13
Can I jump in here? I have learned over the last, you know, several years to not get surprised at the ways that whiteness makes itself known. But I was actually surprised by some of this. And I was just fascinated at how leadership has gone on so long, without pulling this out and saying like, "wait a second here!" Because, you know, to me, it's like, very obvious. You're making these global statements about people and their intellectual capacity. And nobody is challenging that. And I shouldn't say 'nobody', but that was not part of the challenge. And so for me, that was like, "Oh, my goodness." So then having this opportunity to dig deeper with Donna, and these bits and pieces. And I was just fascinated at how, you know, how boldly some of these statements these claims were being made.
Scott Allen 14:22
Well, into your point boldly, right, Missy?
Marion Missy McGee 14:25
I would just say just in with respect to what Cherie mentioned, and I think going back to the importance of what Donna said the need to problematize what has been theorized thus far, even not being able to go theory by theory, but just looking at leadership theorizing as a whole. That there is such a need and that that the fact that Bass' his work has gone on unchallenged, but at the time and it's pointed out in their article I pointed out in my research as well that this is November 2008. This is at the moment that the United States elects its first black president. So he's drafting and writing this at a time where, as a country, you know, the collective sentiment is that somehow we've come to a different place in society. And we're starting to view leadership through a different lens. And then you have the person who's held up, as you know, is regarded as this guru of leadership theory, that is kind of turning that on its face. And I think the fact that it's, we're now almost 12 years removed from that moment, and it's still now starting to be challenged, it's still now starting to be called out. And I wouldn't say that leadership theory is undergoing a "Time's Up" moment just yet. But there, there certainly is all indication that there's a need to really interrogate this notion of how whiteness has been like, Cherie said, so assumed to be as almost a synonym for "leader." That has never been the case, but we need the empirical data to support why those things aren't true. So a lot of what I bring to the conversation is around, I can give you examples, I can give you the actual through critical discourse analysis, the actual example or supporting documentation that puts Bass' work...it shows the probably problematic nature of his work. And I think that's something that we have to encourage as a field, we have to encourage this to happen more and more often. Because if it's presented as if no other leaders exist, or no other perspective of leadership exists, then it's assumed that well, we would esteem leaders of color, but they're just not out there, which has too long been the excuse that's used, well, we would, you know, diversify the inputs of what's shared but they just don't exist. And so a part of what I'm doing is making sure "no, they do exist, and they've existed for some 60 years. And this is the evidence of it."
Scott Allen 17:16
Marion Missy McGee 17:17
It's several things, I share Donna's opinion, I think this notion of whose purposes, I wrote this down, whose purposes are actually served? The question of "whose purpose is being served?" by the ways in which these theories are presented. And I take that a step further to say whose purposes are being served by the way certain narratives are presented? And the ways in which narratives of leadership are presented as the great white man theory. And because going back to something Cherie said, because the language is already situated in a way to keep certain people in a supreme position, and others to be looked at or viewed as non-dominant, then it already creates an atmosphere, where there's an expectation that, again, if leaders are born and not made, that if you're not born into this space, or your narrative doesn't fit the narrative that's presented, then you're not eligible to be considered when we theorize even what it takes to lead organizations effectively. And so I think that was for me the discovery of like we, in finding...I share this in my work, like in looking for leadership theory, to help support or characterize what I saw black leaders doing in the 1950s and 1960s, before a lot of these theories even were fully established, there was nothing that really fit. And then when you try to fit their experience of being community-centered, their experience of being very distributed in their leadership style, very participatory, very relational decades and eons before these things were established, theoretically, how do you then say that because they did not have the narrative of experience that is proposed as "the way" in which leadership occurs? What then of these organizations that have been in existence for this long? How then do you understand what profitability and success looks like from a different experience or a different narrative lens?
Cherie Bridges Patrick 19:28
So I want to jump in here and just support what Missy is saying, from the article that we've written, you're talking about solipsism. And so we talk about the habits three habits of whiteness, in this leadership theorizing and solipsism is this tendency for whites and the function of whiteness to act in ways that only benefits them. So when you talk about who's you know who's benefiting from this, this is what solipsism does and is this circular notion of You know, let's do this work. And it always seems to come back to benefit this one particular group, you just call that out, Missy, thank you.
Scott Allen 20:07
And perhaps, unknowingly. But does. Does that make sense? Yes or no? What do you think? Challenge me?
Marion Missy McGee 20:17
Absolutely, unknowingly. I think that I think to some extent, there is the both/and it's not either/or. It really is this notion of (and this is where we get into this notion of systematic), it's so ingrained in our systems, it's so ingrained in our ways of discourse, it's so ingrained, we're so conditioned to it, that to challenge it (and this is not just true. Now think this was true in 2008, this was true in 1988. It was true, when critical race theory emerged in the late 70s) that to even address race and leadership, is something that people distance themselves from. Which is indicative of this notion of the theory of self - that solipsism. That my experience does not require me to consider race, because my experience is the dominant experience. So I don't even I'm not even presumed to think about this experience from someone else's perspective. And I think all of us can relate experiences of leading where race became a factor, not just gender. Race and gender can become a factor in making that making the case for how you talk about that, how you work through that, when it's presumed that that's not even a factor when it comes to leading effectively.
Scott Allen 21:44
Yeah, when it's presumed that it's not even a factor.
Donna Ladkin 21:47
Yeah, for me, if I can come in there...there's no better example of that. And when you start looking at a theory, like Authentic Leadership Theory, which, you know, is all about, if you look at Authentic Leadership Theory, the way it's been theorized by people, I mean, is theorized in different ways. So I don't want to say that "all" Authentic Leadership Theory theorizes it this way, but the dominant way in which authentic leadership is theorized which is by Avolio, who, in fact, worked with Bass for a long time. You know, it's this idea that you know, the leader is their "true self." And I have never spoken to a person of color, for whom they can say, "oh, yeah, I can be my true self. And that will be fine." Especially in different organizational contexts where, you know, that just won't work. You know, and yet Authentic Leadership theorizing theorizes as if, you know, that's okay, it's available to all, when, in fact, you know, we just, we just know, and I think recently, I think there's been even some commentary from the former President Obama himself talking about how race played into his own experience of being, quote/unquote, the most powerful man in the world. And yet, you know, because of his skin color, he experienced that differently than perhaps others might have.
Cherie Bridges Patrick 23:19
I want to jump in on something that you said, Donna, you know, you taught you brought in Authentic Leadership Theory, right? And this notion of being oneself? Well, if we are honest, if we look at this whole notion of whiteness, right? What it does is, it keeps everybody away from being their true selves, because we don't look at race as a factor, because whiteness pushes us to look narrowly, but in that process of exclusion, white folks are being pushed into a systemic process that makes them follow a certain rubric or, or fall into a certain template of acting of responding. And so they can't be authentic either. So everybody loses when we talk about this harm that whiteness brings.
Donna Ladkin 24:09
I think that's a really important point, we probably should have made it at the very beginning of this conversation, Scott, that, you know, when we're talking about "whiteness" here, we're not talking about skin color. So this is really important to say that for those people listening to the podcast, this is not about whiteness is not about skin color. Whiteness is about a constellation of assumptions and systemic ways of operating, which means that people relate to each other in certain ways based on skin color. So skin color does play a role in it, but that's not what whiteness is not just about skin color and white people, those people with white skin are just as affected and harmed. I think Cherie's done quite a lot of work looking at the harm that whiteness does. to white people, as well as people of color. So I think that's important to notice that it's not about just skin color, it's about the systemic way of structuring relationships.
Scott Allen 25:12
You all highlight that in the paper beautifully. That look, this is not this, this harms all these assumptions that what we illuminate and what is hidden harms everyone on a certain level.
Cherie Bridges Patrick 25:25
I want to be clear, right? Because there are obvious, historical continual harms that occur to black and brown and indigenous bodies and bodies that are not white. And there's a different level of harm, there's a different impact of harm, I will not in any way want to minimize that because that's not what we're doing. You're saying there's harm across the board. However, it impacts differently. And the way that it impacts white bodies, is that it seems to flow down into the soul and create a disconnect from humanity. And then that means that white bodies tend to look at black bodies and brown bodies as inhuman and so that's the harm that it creates a disconnect from one's body, and then collectively, from one's body and soul and collectively, one group to another.
Scott Allen 26:19
Would you talk a little bit more about that disconnect with humanity? Mm
Cherie Bridges Patrick 26:24
Hmm. In order for whiteness to operate, it needs people to buy into it, in order to buy into it, you must subscribe to a certain standard of a certain way of living. And that means that you must disregard a certain part, not only yourself but other people. And so as you operate, you're not looking at the harm that is happening as you move up the ladder, you know, "why are stepping on my neck to get there?" you're missing that is about moving forward, moving upward for this one group of people, which is harmful in and of itself.
Marion Missy McGee 27:00
I'm just co-signing because I think that that you said so much, it's so rich to think about the harm, the shared harm, the mutual harm that's done. And that it's really important to understand that we're not talking simply about skin color in a simplified way, that skin color does play into this cultural complexity of when we talk about organizational culture, and what came to mind when you said the harm that whiteness can do in terms of the dehumanizing, is that even when we talk about the social black leadership or "authentic leadership," excuse me, that among, say, a leader of color, and we use an African American leader, but any leader of color, that the notion of being articulate, or the notion of being, well-read, or well-traveled, is somehow contextualized, as white, or culturally related as white, or an embodiment of whiteness. And that if I'm speaking in an articulate ways, that somehow not being my authentic self, or that there and this, this happens in many organizational contexts, where it's like, "oh, but you can let your hair down, you can, you know, you can, you can do this, this, this and this," and it's like, "well, but this is me." And so that the disconnect, of allowing individuals to be their full selves, whatever that full self shows up as, in that organizational context, that it robs us of really seeing each other in the depths of who we are, regardless of our skin color. And if we don't start to really expand our view (and that's what I mean, by reframing a narrative and are you know, making room for other narratives), if we're not understanding that people's lived experiences really have a lot more in common than in difference to each other. But if we're not making room for those experiences, to inform how we lead, or inform how we make opportunity or space for others to lead, then that assumption, that systemic way of viewing only those who fit this one embodied perspective of whiteness, then it limits so much of what potentially could be just much more fruitful, much more profitable, and when I say profitable, not just in the terms of revenue, bottom-line profitability, or you know, realized value, but actually intrinsic value of how organizations move and grow together. That function of what what we've seen in the last two years of people making, you know, the decision to separate from organizations and say, you know, the value of the quality of life that I want the things that I need, it's not worth kind of the performative nature, the stress or the strain of having to perform in space if I can't bring my full self and full experience to that space. That's a part of understanding how much we radically need to interrogate this notion of whiteness as leading. Because it damages and harms in ways that I think will still continue to play out. The thing that came to mind, we were talking about like where we are in the great resignation and kind of how organizations are struggling to rebuild the workforce. And seeing kind of this influx of white males back in the workforce versus non-white males seeming to be not returning in the numbers that they were pre-COVID, pre-2020. And some of that does rely on this notion of "is it worth what I give up in order to show up in these spaces". And then some people are making the choice informed by "if I can create my own, or if I can carve out a space where I can be more fully myself or feel more seen and feel like my humanity is taken and valued greatly, then I would rather do that then continue to function and organization that treats me as less than because I don't fit the mold that the system has created."
Donna Ladkin 31:09
I know we're coming to the kind of end of our time together, and before we ended, I really didn't want to miss the opportunity to talk a little bit about to get to invite Missy, to talk a little bit about more about your own research into what you did, looking at Black museum leaders and how they brought a different approach to leading into their space. Both, I think for me, the finding that you had around generativity was really important, and also, I just wanted to highlight your work, it starts from a different position, really, in much traditional leadership, there's the expectation that you that the leader is in a position of power, they have positional power, which they are then able to use in a particular way. But I think for the leaders that you were working with, they didn't necessarily have that positional power, and yet we're able to be so effective. So I think your study really turns on its head, a lot of assumptions about leadership. And I just really would love to hear you expand on that before we have to go.
Marion Missy McGee 32:20
Thank you, Donna. In terms of just coming at the notion of leadership from a different perspective, it links to this notion of who's eligible to lead, who has what is necessary to lead. And I looked at six different leaders, in six different organizational contexts, all, I guess, united by the fact that they were founders or executive leaders of African American museums (because that's, of course, my field) but the uniqueness of their experience. One, these are leaders that cover three different generations. So these are leaders who came up in a racially segregated society. So the notion that they were advancing history and culture as a narrative to be shared, many of them, you know, working kind of as educators by night, trying to educate their local communities about the rich history and culture of African Americans. That was a subversive act in and of itself. We talked about the present-day culture wars that were undergoing, but keeping in mind that culture wars in the 1950s, that was in the McCarthy era, these were leaders of the McCarthy era that were trying to lead in a space where they were considered, you know, revolutionary, they were considered to be basically at odds with the government or the system by which society was operating under. So this notion of trying to institutionalize that history, meaning create spaces where it could be shared, and passed on from generation to generation was in and of itself, a subversive act. It wasn't something that they necessarily were supported in doing, and operating in a way that they need it to depend on the local community support to build a grassroots effort. And then to grow those organizations over time, such that they're still standing today, they're still profitable today, they're still able to be anchors or resources within the six different communities they serve. That in and of itself comes with a reliance on community and this is where kind of the generativity part, the reliance on being very, very open and generative in how this information gets shared, and then not leading to compete with someone else not leading to outrun or outpace another organization, but they talk about in their own narratives, the need to convene with one another to share resources, anytime they were successful in getting, you know, National Endowment for Humanities money or National Endowment for the Arts money - any type of funding - to share that across other institutions so that others could also benefit from what they've gained or what they were benefiting from. And that area or that approach to leading being something that you don't see presented in theories of leadership, you can be successful and generative in your approach, but also help and support and sustain other institutions or like-minded institutions. And make no mistake, that in grant funding or nonprofit management, you're competing for funding it on a regular basis. So it wasn't as if there was not a notion that you know, "there's only so much money to go around." But there was an understanding that, by growing and supporting one another, across the field, all the institutions could benefit when that it didn't have to just be one winner, one leader on top. And that's a notion of leadership, I think there's still deserves a lot more credence as we start looking at ways we the ways in which we theorize leadership differently.
Scott Allen 36:16
I would love maybe for each one of us to just close out with something we want to leave listeners with. It could be something provocative, it could be something you're thinking about, it could be something that is a question you're still pondering. But is there something that each one of you would like to leave listeners with, we could talk for hours, and I would love to have the three of you back to continue this conversation, for sure. scratching the surface of the dialogue.
Cherie Bridges Patrick 36:45
I will go ahead and just sort of summarize where I am in this conversation beyond leadership theorizing. So including and beyond leadership theorizing, what I want to leave folks with is that whiteness is something that is, is, and has continued to create harm for everyone. And none of us can, can be authentic, none of us can be vulnerable, none of us can move forward fully right into and live into our full capacity. And so understanding that and again, everybody's harmed differently. And there is a possibility though, or even with that, there is a possibility for growth, for movement for healing. And because I'm looking at trauma, and because I see whiteness as a form of trauma, that impacts us all. There is a possibility for us to do better. It takes an investment of time resources, and a lot a lot of courage.
Scott Allen 37:43
Yes, yes. Missy,
Marion Missy McGee 37:45
I think the thing I would like to leave with is the need for the collective view. We started out the conversation talking about the kind of great white man theory and how limiting that is for the individuals who are trying to embody that, but also limiting for the organizations and followers that are a part of that, that my research really shed light on a notion that I had not really seen in leadership theorizing, which is this collective dimension, the notion that there's always space at the table, or there's room at the table. Making room in leadership theory for a collective dimension. I think in the more practical sense. In our own organizations, it's making space for voices that too often are unheard. It's making space for the ways in which people bring their lived experience to their organizational culture, and making sure that those experiences are ascribed equal value. And that that collective, is valued as equally as an individual's ability that we start to look at our organizations differently. And think about all of the expertise that you know, is contained within those spaces. And where we've limited the ability of individuals to really be a part of building or growing or strengthening the organizations themselves.
Scott Allen 39:13
So while limiting the ability, right, wherever we unknowingly sometimes unconsciously limited the ability. Donna?
Donna Ladkin 39:22
I think what I need to say kind of bridges together some of the things that Cherie said and Missy, some of the things that she said as well. And so one of the things that shocked me, I think really shock is the word...as I started to look into theorization around whiteness itself. So this journey when writing this paper, actually made me look at scholars who are looking at critical there's a whole field called critical whiteness studies now
Scott Allen 39:55
Yeah, I didn't...I was not aware of that.
Donna Ladkin 39:58
And one of the things that come through in a lot of that writing is the central idea within whiteness is the need for the creation of an "object other." Another person who's somehow, you know "different" than always creating that sense of different and distance between one than the other. And when I started to look, I guess that's also indicative of a kind of notion of a zero-sum game. Like there's only so much power, there's only so much wealth, and so on. And by God if you don't, you know, it's that kind of...and I started to think about that. And then when I started to look at a lot of leadership theory, not just Bass' notion but other leadership theories in which we see this, this real distinction being made between "leaders" and "followers." And suddenly, I started getting this resonance of the "abject other" kind of echoing throughout leadership of leadership canon. What happens if we suddenly don't think of it in those terms? What if we don't need an abject other? What if we start thinking about leaders and followers and start thinking about leadership as his collective endeavor?
Scott Allen 41:24
Yes, yes. What's that word? Donna said on the front of this podcast right now, what's the word? I think about that a lot, right? Because it's such a false dichotomy. Leader follower? No, a very few. Very few elements are done in solo isolation. They are, it's not a thing. No. But we made a thing,
Donna Ladkin 41:53
...and maybe it's made to be a thing because whiteness really hinges on that. And then maybe leadership has kind of adopted a lot of these aspects of whiteness. So if we unhinge that, what then becomes possible?
Scott Allen 42:09
Hmm. Well, my final conclusion is something from the paper that really, I mentioned to the three of you really hit me kind of over the head in a very positive way, as I was reading the article, you all write, "The most obvious evidence of normalization within basses writings is the way in which leading by those other than whites is identified. For instance, in the 2008 preface, he writes, "Part Seven concentrates on women and minorities as leaders, as well as leadership across countries and cultures, previous editions concentrated on African Americans. But the fourth edition is expanded to examine leadership among many other minorities, ranging from what has become the largest group, Hispanics, to another large group, Italian Americans, for which less leadership literature exists." Here's your commentary. "This is what hit me. In other words, the previous 874 pages written prior to Section VII, Diversity and Cultural Effects actually describe white leadership. I mean, your 37 pages are focused on minorities as leaders and followers in a book that spans 1208 pages, although those pages are not, are not labeled 'how leadership among white men occurs.' By calling out those other than white men, the norm of whiteness is silently established."
Wow. It's powerful, very, very powerful to the three of you, thank you for the work that you're doing. Thank you for elevating some very important concepts, how language can illuminate but also hide how there's a lot underneath the words and how that hurts and in many ways, damages us all. Thank you so much. Missy. Thank you for the work you do.
Marion Missy McGee 44:11
Thank you. Thank you. It's an honor to be here.
Scott Allen 44:15
Donna, thank you for the work you do.
Donna Ladkin 44:17
Thank you, Scott. It's been a pleasure actually having a chance to speak about like
Scott Allen 44:23
Cherie, thank you for the work you do.
Cherie Bridges Patrick 44:25
Thank you so much. Appreciate this opportunity.
Scott Allen 44:28
Okay, every one be well
Transcribed by https://otter.ai