Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Leadership Vision, Philosophy & Style

LEFFLER: What would you say have been the enduring principles by which you lead and live?

BOND: By which I lead, it's the idea that everybody has to have a say. On the NAACP Board that means sixty-three people. I'm the sixty-fourth. Everybody has to have their say. Even some people who may not contribute much. They have to have their say or their chance at a say. And that there's got to be transparency, which is the modern word for openness. There's got to be openness in -- organizations that depend on public support have to be transparent. The public has to see that you're spending your money wisely, safely, nobody's enriching themselves, everything's on the up and up. You adhere to the group's principles. You have to have that. If you lose that, you lose everything. So that's part of it. I think people have to see you the leader as someone who adheres to principle. I do the best I can. Sometimes I get angry at people raising their hands and want to talk for the fifteenth time on something. But usually I'll say go ahead because you have to give -- I want them to do it for me when I raise my hand. I want to be treated -- I want to treat other people the way I want them to treat me. The old Golden Rule is --I really believe in that --Treat me the way you want me to treat you. If you do that we can get along, we can be okay.

LEFFLER: Would you call that your vision?

BOND: I guess so. I guess so. I believe in fairness. I don't mean in big, racial terms. I believe in it there, too. But in personal terms I believe in fairness. "Let's be fair with each other. You give me something. I'll give you something. You ask for something, I'll ask for something. We're even. We're even." It may be that you have a million dollars, and I have a thousand dollars. But we're even. We are each due the same level of respect.

LEFFLER: How would you distinguish between your vision, your philosophy and your style, or are they one in the same?

BOND: I think they're probably the same. Well, my philosophy, and I'm not sure if I can really sum it up the way I'd like to, is that "I want to go here." There may be several different ways to go all of them equally good, none of them bad ways. I'll take which ever way will get me there, and it may not always be the fastest, but it hopefully will be the one that gets me there in the best shape. That's -- none of these are bad choices. These are all decent ways to do this. But I want the one that will get me there. Everybody feels good about it. Everybody's happy at the result or most people are anyway. You can't make everybody happy.

LEFFLER: So ultimately you're really returning to this concept of the consensual model of leadership?

BOND: Yes. I believe in that. I believe in that.