The AMA Handbook of Leadership

By Marshall Goldsmith; John Baldoni et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2

Leadership and Diversity Management:
Unfinished Business

R. Roosevelt Thomas, Jr.

Over the past 40 years, our society has become better at mainstreaming people previously excluded. Whether labeled as desegregation, integration, pluralism (representation), diversity, or inclusion, the reality is that we have had some notable success in identifying and accessing talent and developing leadership profiles that look like our communities.

Nowhere was this success more evident than in the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. His election represents a giant step in creating a political leadership profile that looked like America with respect to race. Further, he appointed a cabinet that was pluralistic (representative) not only in terms of race but also of gender, ethnicity, political affiliation, ideology, experience, style, education, and other attributes. Because these people cared deeply about the United States and its challenges and opportunities, they held the potential not to be simply a pluralistic (representative) mixture but also a source of diverse behavior. President Obama expected his cabinet to generate and passionately present a multitude of diverse prescriptions for their various policy areas.

In support of his administration's priorities, the diversity management challenge for Mr. Obama became that of fostering quality decision making in the midst of these significant and critical pluralistic and behavioral differences and similarities. His leadership task has been to

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