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    Obama and Ubuntu Leadership

    On February 3, 2012, the Cincinnati Enquirer published a piece by Julie Pace of the Associated Press that quoted President Obama as saying that "faith and values should play as much a role in tackling the nation's challenges as smart policies".  He was specifically speaking of his Christian values and I couldn't help but notice the alignment with the African concept of Ubuntu.  Although not everyone links Ubuntu to a Christian concept, and we do not link Ubuntu Leadership solely to a Christian concept, it is interesting to make the leap from Obama's comments to thinking that perhaps Ubuntu is a guiding force for him.

    Roughly defined, Ubuntu means "I am who I am because of who we all are".  Thus, if I do something harmful to you, I not only hurt you, but I hurt myself and all those in both of our spheres.  Of course, the same is true if you do something positive.  Leadership anchored in values is something we have also discussed in this blog regarding Bob McDonald of P&G and also Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton and Former President Clinton. 

    For years now we have advocated that values based on the Humanistic Philosophy of Ubunty would make a great starting place for leadership of all levels!  We have actually designed a theoretical model and operationalized it as well so that we could "test" the application of Ubuntu concepts with organizations.  So far, the results are positive.

    What a service Obama would be doing to the world if he pubicly spoke about his position on Ubuntu!!!

    Ann Dinan, Ph.D., M.S.S.A., C.P.C.C.



    Values-Driven Leadership by Bob McDonald, CEO of P&G

    Today, Bob McDonald, CEO of P&G gave an inspiring speech on Values-Driven Leadership at the Distinguished Speaker's Series hosted by the Williams College of Business at Xavier University.  The essence of his speech is as follows:

    1. Living a life driven by PURPOSE is more meaningful and rewarding than meandering through life without direction.
    2. Everyone wants to SUCCEED and success is contagious.
    3. Putting people in the right jobs is one of the the most important tasks of a leader.
    4. CHARACTER is the most important trait of a leader and personal responsibility an important component.
    5. Diverse groups of people are more INNOVATIVE than homegenous groups.
    6. Ineffective strategies, systems, and culture are bigger barriers to ACHIEVEMENT than the talents of people.
    7. There will be some people who don't make it on the journey and they should still be treated with respect.
    8. Organizations must RENEW themselves.
    9. RECRUITING is a top priority.
    10. The true test of a leader is the PERFORMANCE of an organization when he/she is absent.

    For those of you who are familiar with the Personal Leadership Institute, you will find his words consistent with our beliefs, assumptions, and actions.  In fact, we believe he could have written a large part of our website and supporting materials, and we could have written his speech (although not delivered it as eloquently as he did!).

    At the end of his speech, Bob, also mentioned the importance of social responsibility.  It is so refreshing to hear a CEO of a major organization speaking about values-driven leadership AND social responsibility.

    Rock on, Bob!


    Ann Dinan, Ph.D., M.S.S.A., C.P.C.C.
    The Deeper Leadership Institute



    Culturally Adaptive Leadership and Privilege

    President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address last night, and Chris Matthews, of MSNBC, said "He is post-racial, by all appearances.  I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.  You know, he's gone a long way to become a leader of this country, and past so much history, in just a year or two.  I mean, it's something we don't even think about."

    Although Chris meant those words as a compliment there has been quite a bit of backlash as a result.

    So, let's dissect this statement.  First of all what does it mean to be post-racial?  There is an implied positive connotation in that term, and yet it also has components of privilege.  Post-racial sounds to me like it means post-black.  After all, it is really not post-white.  Therefore, the term implies that when we reach a place that race does not matter, we will all be indviduals of privilege.  Right now, in this society, that means we are individuals who have privileges accorded to whites and specifically white males. 

    I am not going to put words in Chris Matthew's mouth nor attempt to be inside of his head, but if in fact, he was trying to say that President Obama is a leader-  Period -  a leader; and is not being described or viewed as a black leader, then I understand what he was trying to say.  In this country, with a history of slavery, not only have we elected a president who is a person of color, but now we have gone beyond defining him by his color and we are defining him by his leadership. 

    And yet, we still need to be very much aware of race and racial tensions even with a president who is a person of color.  In fact, I have heard more overt racial comments since President Obama threw his hat in the race for president, than I have in all of my 49 years.  I am not sure we can jump to the conclusion that race relations are healed or even different because a person of color was elected President of the United States.

    In fact, President Obama's election has really brought to the surface many racial feelings that were buried for so many years.  I  maintain that we will not ever be able to successfully deal with racial issues (or gender or sexual orientation or any other similar type of situation) until we deal first with privilege.  In this society, white males have more privilege than any other group.  Let me be quick to point out that they did not necessarily ask for this privilege.  Hence, this is a very sensitive issue among white men and with good reason.  Nonetheless, privileges in every domain of their lives are afforded to them and privilege being the quiet, invisible entity that it is; is not recognized by most people. 

    I also do not want to single out white men when speaking of privilege.   We have sub-groups within under-privileged groups that have more privilege than others.  This will continue until we all recognize our own privilege AND are willing to give up our privilege for the greater good of humanity.  If you believe we are all created equal, then that equality ends there in this society.  We have the ability to understand our privilege, and we have the ability to act in a more non-privileged way if we choose.  We can lead our lives by recognizing our own privilege and our own humanity.  We can order our lives around the concept of Ubuntu:  I am who I am because of who we all are.  We can commit to equality - true equality. 

    Electing a person of color as the President of the United States is not to be negated.  But we cannot make assumptions beyond that fact to race relations or to privilege relations in this country. 

    Collectively, we all have a lot of work to do before we achieve equality for all.

    It sounds to me as if Chris Matthews may hold that vision.  Electing a person of color as the leader of the United States is a component of that vision.  It is not the end all and be all.  It is up to us to each do our part.

    Peggy McIntosh wrote a wonderful piece of work on the Invisible Knapsack of Privilege.  In that article, she asked a number of questions that one could answer to ascertain their level of privilege.  Here is a sampling of them:

    "I am never asked to speak for all of the people of my racial group"

    "I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the person in charge, I will be facing a person of my race"

    "I can choose bandages in "flesh" colour that more or less match my skin"

    Others have written about male privilege, heterosexual privilege, and socio-economic privilege.  These works are absolutely eye-opening!  Unfortunately, they are eye-opening because most people have the privilege of not ever having to think about these things.

    That is where are work lies.  Let us begin.


    Ann Dinan, Ph.D., M.S.S.A., C.P.C.C.


    The Eve of the Dawn: Evolutionary Leadership:  Ubuntu!

    Happy New Year and Happy New Decade!

    I had no idea when I wrote the last post all that would transpire to affirm that we are truly on the "eve of the dawn" in terms of leadership, but something happened that is hard to ignore.  As background, many of you know that I have written about ubuntu (the concept that states essentially that "I am because of who we are").  The concept was introduced globally during the Truth and Reconcillation sessions in South Africa calling upon the need for forgiveness.  I myself, have been talking about it since 2002 and have owned several ubuntu leadership dot com names while I waited for the right time to work with it.


    on New Year's Day,...

    in a bowling ally,....

    in Cincinnati OH;....

    I saw a man wearing a baseball hat and on the back it said "I am who I am because of who we all are".  I immediately identified the saying as ubuntu but couldn't believe it!  So, I tried to get in front of him (no small feat because I am only 5' tall and he was actually bowling so in order to get a view I would need to stand actually in a lane).  Eventually I just asked him and then said - do you mean the operating system?  And he said "no, my wife and I lived in South Africa in 2001-2002" and love the concept of ubuntu.  I am sure I was speechless as I too had been in South Africa during that time period.  Nonetheless, I took it as a sign..  a major sign!  As I indicated earlier in blog posts, I try and reassess direction at the beginning of each year and I was struggling a bit with all the subtypes of leadership that I am working on (culturally adaptive leadership...) but then I realized that the time is NOW.  The world needs to learn about ubuntu as a concept and as it applies to leadership!  So, this is a call to action!  I see it as my umbrella concept for my work - my stake in the ground so to speak and yet I also see the need to be more directive about delivering ubuntu leadership.

    Please let me know if you are interested in learning more about ubuntu and also about ubuntu in terms of leadership.  I cannot wait to see what bubbles up for all of us!  Clearly this was a sign meant not only for 2010 but for the entire decade.  "The eve of the dawn" .....  Yes we are!!!  Let's step up together for all of humanity!

    With much love and light,



    Ann Dinan, Ph.D., M.S.S.A., C.P.C.C.



    The Eve of the Dawn: Personal Leadership

    As we sit on the eve of the dawn of what I hope is a year of enlightenment, I do what I always do:  reassess.  I am not big on resolutions only because we tend to make lofty ones that lack a specific plan with an accountability process and are thus doomed to less than resounding success.  So, as I reassess my year, I am grateful for all of my abundance and the diverse areas that it shows up!  I am grateful for new beginnings and the resources that I have access to so that I can truly make changes should I so desire!  I am grateful for all of the challenges that have given me pause and helped me gain even more clarity with the discernment process!  I am thrilled with all of the light-filled people who have entered and remained in my life in 2009 and will be side by side in 2010!  Of course, this small list is only the tip of the iceberg. 

    My purpose in writing this blog was to challenge you to create a reassessment process for yourself.  What is working and what is not.  Drill down to the nuances!  For example, I was feeling frustrated that I had not achieved one of my financial goals only to discover that I had greatly over-achieved regarding another financial goal and I was really ok with that!  So, I encourage you to look at the big picture, and feel free to look at page one of this website for the personal and professional wheels if you want to get an idea of some categories of life that you can use to assess yourself and your progress.  Once you are clear about who you are and how you want to show up in 2010, please allow me to encourage you to devise a step by step plan with an accountability component (not just "due dates" but some mechanism to make sure you take the steps you say you will).  And may I also encourage you to be gentle enough with yourself to revise, revise, revise!!!!  That is exactly what happened with my financial goals and I couldn't be happier!

    And, please feel free to post any ideas that you have here that may help others to become their biggest, best possible selves and to LEAD, not just live their lives this coming year!  It doesn't just take a village any longer, it takes the world to step up and lead ourselves!!!!

    Happy New Year



    Ann Dinan, Ph.D., M.S.S.A., C.P.C.C.