Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Vision, Philosophy, and Style

BOND: Let’s move on. Let me ask you -- what do you see for yourself as the difference between vision, philosophy, and style? How do these three interact for you?

HRABOWSKI: Sure. Vision for me has everything to do with how we see the world today and how we might envision the world if things were as we wanted them to be. It’s both. Being able to see clearly what is the case and then being able to see what is possible and somehow looking at the gap between the two. It’s all a part of envisioning, and then one’s vision is how do you go from where you are, because you see it clearly, to where you want to go.

One’s philosophy is, from my perspective, the ethical core of the person. What is it that you value? What is it that is critical when you think about themes that help to shape who you are? If someone were to ask me the question what is my philosophy of life, what is my philosophy of education, I could very easily say that my philosophy focuses on building relationships with people characterized by trust and authenticity and my believing in the fundamental goodness of people -- that we can bring from people that goodness, that we all have all kinds of sides and can be all kinds of things or people if we’re not encouraged to be our best, whether in education or in life.

And then style has everything to do with how we approach reaching the vision and interacting with others. What is our approach? Is it more consensus building? Is it more dictatorial? Is it with humor? Is it serious all the time? My own style is characterized, I believe, by intensity and informality at the same time.

BOND: How do you handle these seemingly conflicting --

HRABOWSKI: Right, but if you can get people to relax and believe that you’re authentic and sincere, you can get the best from them and you can understand how they can be helpful in shaping a vision because that’s the point I should make -- any -- from my perspective, vision has a lot to do not with an individual’s sight, but with the ability of someone to work with a group, whoever the group, to have that collective vision. And that’s a part of the style aspect in terms of consensus building.