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Joanne B. Ciulla

Joanne B. Ciulla

Joanne Ciulla is Professor and Coston Family Chair in Leadership and Ethics at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond, the only undergraduate degree-granting school of leadership studies in the world.

Diversity Leadership

I credit President Bush with hastening the demise of the "stale, pale, male" image of leaders in America. Over the course of the Bush presidency, Americans got used to seeing two African American Secretary of States, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, on the nightly news.

The fact that it was probably not Bush's intent to "bring diversity" into his cabinet made the appointment of these two leaders all the more compelling. Few Americans doubted that Powell and Rice were appointed to their jobs because they were smart, competent, and seen by the president as the best qualified for the job. While Powell left the administration early, Americans had eight years of seeing Rice's image as a leader in the news.

Leadership scholars have done extensive research on people's implicit theory of leadership. We all carry around our own idea of what a leader should be like. This includes everything from how a leader looks to how he or she should behave. During the campaign, Obama noted that he did look like the presidents on our currency, but one might argue that Bush's appointment of Rice and Powell made it easier for Americans to imagine Barack Obama as their leader.

By Joanne B. Ciulla

 |  January 6, 2009; 12:06 PM ET
Category:  Presidential leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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OMG. What color are those glasses?

Didn't Powell get ignored and marginalized before getting the boot? Rice appears to be little more than a puppet and I have no reason to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone in this administration who stood buy, or even supported its policies.

Posted by: pushbush | January 6, 2009 5:47 PM
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Both essentially failed in working with Bush. Powell, the ever good and faithful soldier sold the war and did not vet the intelligence and could not persuade Bush to not enter the war. Rice, nothing more to say than another good loyal ideological toady. Does "uncle Tom" fit these two? Diversity should also include competence and success in their offices.

Posted by: Fremon | January 6, 2009 3:17 PM
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The "image" of leaders. Americans got used to "seeing" two African Americans. "Seeing Rice's image." "Obama noted that he did look like the presidents." "[E]asier for Americans to imagine." Yeah, you got Americans down quite well. We are all into looks without little solid foundation.

Posted by: OwnMan | January 6, 2009 2:41 PM
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