Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Vision, Philosophy, and Style

BOND: Let me ask you some questions about leadership philosophy. What do you see as the difference between vision, philosophy and style? What are the differences between these things — vision, philosophy and style.

LEE: Vision, I still say, is your dream, and we have all have to have dreams, regardless of where we are and what we're doing. The difference between vision and philosophy I think is how you implement that vision, what's the philosophical basis upon which that vision will be implemented. It could be religion. It could be faith. It could be morals. It could be values. It could be whatever, but, you know, like my philosophy comes from my training in Catholic school, part of the Scriptures. That's kind of my philosophical bent to hopefully create this vision or be part of creating a vision that I think should be for all people in terms of a better world.

And then style, I think, has to do with just how you do all this stuff. Do you do it by yourself? Do you do it in a democratic fashion? Do you try to pull people to accept your philosophical point of view, leading to your vision? The style thing is kind of the how to do it and the way in which you're going to create this vision that you have, based on your philosophy.

BOND: Has your vision, as far as you can recall, has your vision been constant or has it changed, has it altered in some way — grown, changed?

LEE: I think it's been constant, but grown, you know. It's always been — God, this world is in turmoil and it has been for most part, since I've been alive. How do we make a better world for people? And it's always been not only here in America but throughout the world. And so it's been constant in terms of how do we connect people throughout the world, especially people of color to be together, to try to make things better and how do we become more powerful to do that. And so it's always — it's been, ever since that time in El Paso when I wrote that in my diary until right now, I'm still trying to figure that out.

BOND: But if it's changed, grown, if it's grown, how has it grown? What would be different today than, say, ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, about your vision?

LEE: I think it's how to deal politically, how to use this framework to get the legislation passed, for instance, that I think takes us closer to that dream or how to fight against the legislation or policies that help us — that push us back from that vision, how to get the resources to implement that vision. I think the skill set and the knowledge base has developed a little bit more than ten, fifteen years ago and each day, you know, you learn more and you just do more and you figure out that part of it a little bit better.