SCARPINO: Today is February 18, 2013. I am Philip Scarpino and I am sitting for a second interview session with Jean Lipman-Blumen in her home in Pasadena, California. On behalf of the International Leadership Association and the Tobias Center and myself, thank you for sitting with me for a second time.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Thank you for coming.
SCARPINO: I’m going to ask your permission to record this interview, to have the interview transcribed, to have the transcription and the recorded interview deposited with the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives, the Tobias Center and the International Leadership Association where they can be used by their patrons at the discretion of the directors.
SCARPINO: Thank you very much. Last time, we talked for a couple of hours and we got to the point in your career where you had made the move to Washington DC. I’m going to start by asking you a few questions just to sort out what you were doing there and then to talk in a little bit more detail about that, and then to move on through your career. If I did my homework, in 1983 you accepted a position as one of the assistant directors of the…
SCARPINO: 1973, you’re right. I’m sorry. One of the assistant directors of the National Institute of Education, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, yes and no. I had originally been invited to be in the think tank at the National Institute of Education. The National Institute of Education was a new agency that had been put together. It was modeled after the National Institutes of Health. The idea was to bring in people who were not in the field of education but in the social and behavioral sciences to look at education and think about how could we make education better. It was created because the Office of Education at the time was sort of hamstrung politically. They didn’t think they could do it there. So, they were trying to do an end run and create this other body called the National Institute of Education. It was in HHS, what was HEW then, Health, Education and Welfare. The person who ran it was a very good economist but very naïve politically. His father was at the Rand Corporation and he was at the Rand Corporation. He was asked to come and be the director. He knew nothing about Washington politics. That was too bad because they ran roughshod over him. They didn’t give him a Board, but then he couldn’t make decisions without a Board. If he made decisions, they would chastise him because he made them without the Board. If he didn’t make decisions, they chastised him because he was a do-nothing. In a very short time, about two weeks after I got there, they lost their budget, which was unheard of in the ’70s, just unheard of. So, they decided that the think tank idea had to go out the window because that was too academic, it was too intellectual, etc. and the people on the Hill wouldn’t really understand or go for it. They had asked me beforehand if, while I was there in the think tank, also develop a program on educational and occupational needs for women. I said yes, because I was really interested in women and was doing work on women’s issues. I ended up doing that. I was the director of this program on educational and occupational needs of women. We looked at women in their true diversity. We ran conferences and gave out contracts and grants for research on women. It was the heyday of the resurgence of the Women’s Movement. A number of feminists, people like myself who were really concerned and passionate about women’s issues, had come to Washington to work on these things. It was a remarkable period, one of the best, most exciting periods of my life because it allowed me to not only do my intellectual work but then give vent to the activist side of my persona. I was very involved in all kinds of things. I gave testimony on the Hill and ran conferences and did things. Then, in my off hours, I organized—it just came about in a funny way—I organized something that became known as the “salon.” The “salon” was a very informal event that happened when it happened. It happened whenever somebody interesting came to town. At first, it was people who came to town from other towns or cities. Sheila Tobias was I think the first person I invited to come. Then, there were people who used to be sent to me by the State Department when they came from other countries. The State Department had a program on women leaders from other countries.
They would invite women that they thought would be leaders in their countries. They gave them this great tour of the U.S., et cetera. I was one of the people whom would be asked to meet with them. I thought, well, they shouldn’t just meet with me or the people they’re selecting because I knew when I was invited by the Swedish government to go there for a month, I saw the way they—with all good intentions—asked me to meet with people with whom I had no common interests whatsoever. So, I thought I should bring together in the evening all the feminists in Washington, from the government, from academia, from the media, from law, from medicine, from the Hill. I would invite all these people to come and meet whoever this person was.
SCARPINO: Who would have been on the guest list?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: All kinds of people, from Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo who when she came was I think at the head of OECD but became the prime minister of Portugal. Betty Friedan. Gloria Steinem. Jessie Bernard, who was in Washington. But, people from all over the world came. Barbro Dahlbom-Hall, who was a management consultant to the Swedish Parliament. Annika Baude, who was the highest ranking woman in the Palme Government in Sweden. Do you remember Palme who was murdered at a certain point?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: A lot of Swedes came because I had been in Sweden, so I had this whole group of women policymakers and social scientists who know me and who came. People came from all over the world. People came from South Africa. People came from every continent.
SCARPINO: You facilitated this?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah. That makes it sound very elegant. I sort of threw it together, put it that way. I would just put out the word and say, “The salon is going to meet at my house on such and such a night. Come.” And people would say, “Well, I’m not on the guest list.” There was no guest list. It was just this word of mouth. I’d get on the telephone and then there were certain people who were sort of regulars. I’d say, “Well, will you tell Nancy and so and so, and so and so.” So, there were the people from the American Council on Education, Nancy Schlossberg, Donna Shavlik, Leslie Wolfe from the Women Policy Center. Bunny Sandler, who was someone who did amazing policy things. She worked I think for the College Board, but she did all kinds of things for women. Joy Simonson, who was the executive director of WEEA, the Women’s Educational Equity Act. I mean, we really had it together. We made things happen.
SCARPINO: What did you make happen?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: We pushed legislation. We testified. We met with these people from other countries. We got ideas from them. They got ideas from us. We created this worldwide network before there was an Internet. It was really very exciting and very engaging. Everybody felt excited and turned on and hopeful about what we could accomplish for women. Carter had come into office and he was, and Rosalynn Carter, too, were interested in women’s issues. I helped to write the national plan for the U.S. for the U.N. conference. I have a copy of it downstairs somewhere.
SCARPINO: National plan on women?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah, for women. At one point when I was in the White House subsequently, I was asked to write for the government what had been done in the Carter administration for women. So, we tried to pull that together. We made a lot of things happen. I wasn’t the only one. There were cadres of women. It was a huge explosion of talent and hopefulness and excitement about what could be. And interestingly enough, we thought Carter wasn’t doing enough. Little did we know what would happen later and how much of what we did would be unraveled in subsequent administrations, which was very heartbreaking.
SCARPINO: Well, Jimmy Carter, of course, was a democrat but he openly embraced a fundamentalist Christian perspective. How would you compare the environment in terms of women’s issues in the Carter administration with the one that exists in Washington today?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, I’m not as close to the one in Washington today. I mean, his evangelical Christian orientation didn’t put a damper on the women’s issues, believe it or not. What he did, which was sort of naïve and sweet and ineffective, was when he first came in, he did what all the presidents do. They go to each agency and they meet in the lobby with all of the people who work there. Carter, instead of asking them what they were doing, would ask them, how many of you are living with someone you’re not married to? People would put up their hands and he would admonish them that they were living in sin and they should go off and get married. People looked at him as sort of a decent man, but naïve. I think that was, certainly at the beginning, a reasonable evaluation. The other thing about Carter, and I think this has gotten lost in all the negative things that have been said about him, Carter was the first one to my knowledge who talked about human rights and about human rights as a criteria by which we should measure and decide whether we should give foreign aid to other countries. People laughed at him. They thought Pat, I think her name was Pat Derian who was in the State Department and she was the point person on that. She used to go out and talk about it. I used to feel very sorry for her because people would be openly derisive of that idea. Now, we take it for granted and we don’t even know where it comes from. Nobody attributes it to Carter. They talk about Carter writing memos about who could use the White House tennis courts. Maybe he did that, too, but the press focused on some sort of trivial things.
SCARPINO: Did you know Jimmy Carter personally?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I met him. I can’t say I really knew him. He wouldn’t know me if he fell over me.
SCARPINO: Did you consider yourself to be a leader of women’s activities in the DC area while you were there?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: One of them. We all were. Everybody was. We were into it every minute of the day and night. It was exhilarating. I don’t think we thought of ourselves as leaders. Looking back on it, yeah, because we all took initiatives and we were supportive of one another. Women were not competing with women. Women were helping each other. They were building things together. It was truly exhilarating and some of my dearest, oldest, most beloved friends come from that period.
SCARPINO: We’re going to lose your audio here.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: This is a picture of Florence Herman who was head of the Federal Women’s Program in HEW. This is when I’m now living in California and she and her husband did come visit us. This is some years ago. She’s passed on now. Her responsibility was for all the women who were employed by HEW, which was huge, and we ran programs for them and we did things. We brought people together and things happened. For the time that they were going on it was important and it was useful. Later on, many of the things… Joy Simonson, who headed up the Women’s Educational Equity Act, the day after the Reagan administration came in, she had prepared the agenda for the new group would be on the board that Reagan had appointed. Phyllis Schlafly was a new member. The first thing they did was set aside the agenda that she had prepared to put an agenda item on to remove her as executive director. So she went to work for Barney Frank for the rest of her life. I mean, she was an astute woman who had been there for 30 years. She didn’t just come with the parvenus like I did who were imbued with this new excitement. She had been working for women’s issues quietly. She and Catherine East, who was a remarkable woman in the Office of Education, who I went to see when I was doing my dissertation at Harvard, and she was in a basement office about the size of this one. You know, piles and piles of paper and she’d been working there for 20 years and she made all kinds of incredible things happen. Here’s another thing we did. Mary Hilton was the Assistant Director of the Women’s Bureau in the Department of Labor and she had been through eight administrations, so that tells you how politically adroit she had to be. She and I had both been at a conference in Arden House on Women in the Economy. We’d seen each other at the conference, but it was structured in such a way that we were each with sort of subgroups the whole time and then we’d meet in these big plenaries. We didn’t get to meet people in other subgroups, but we sat next to each other on the plane just by coincidence coming home. We said, “Weren’t you just at that group?” I said, “Yeah, I was.” So we introduced ourselves to each other. I told her what I did. She told me what she did. I had been in Washington for eight months or maybe a little longer, and I said, “Well, how come we haven’t ever met? We should be working together. We should know each other. We should be doing things together.” On that plane we hatched an idea, which was, we called it the… but what we did was we invited all the women in the government who headed programs and had a budget over a certain amount, and we invited them to come. This will tell you how naïve I was. We invited them like on a Monday to come in a week or so, without e-mail, without anything like that. I said to Mary, “Don’t we have to ask permission?” She said, “No, don’t be ridiculous. The minute we ask for permission we’ll have to report to someone. Don’t ask for permission. We’re doing the government’s work.” We wanted to bring everybody together who had a budget of some sort, so we could figure out how to put it all together and make something happen. It so happened that that day when we met we had standing room only. Seventy-five people showed up.
SCARPINO: On a week’s notice?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: On a week’s notice. It means we were tapping into something that was ready to happen. Okay? Every single month we called that meeting. People stood up and they talked about what they did and what their budget was for. When people came to each of us as people came to me and they’d say, oh, I want money to do da, da, da. Well, my budget and my guidelines wouldn’t let me do that. But I knew now exactly where to send them. They didn’t have to go on this big old merry-go-round. I’d say, call or go to so-and-so. I’d call so-and-so and say, I’m sending this person over. She needs this, this, this. We became very efficient and this was before Carter came in. When Carter came in he sent around a thing asking, what was happening on women’s issues. They came to us to ask. We weren’t even an official part of anything. Midge Costanza, I don’t know if you remember that name, but she was the person who was Carter’s point person on women. She came to find out what we were up to. So we got a lot of things done during those days. They were wonderful days. They were very joyous, very happy, sometimes frustrating, but we felt we were making a difference. I would work on a Friday night until 10:00 at night calling people in Indiana, whom I hadn’t had a chance to talk to, but I wasn’t calling them that way, but I was calling people who had written to me and I needed to talk to them. I’d call up and say, hello, this is Jean Lipman-Blumen from the National Institute of Education. They thought I was kidding them. They couldn’t believe that someone in the government to whom they had written would actually pick up the phone and call them. At any rate, it was exhilarating. We did a lot of things. Then I went from there to the Assistant Secretary’s office and then to the White House to the Domestic Policy staff. Then I went to the Center for Advanced Study in the behavioral sciences, ’78 to ’79.
SCARPINO: University of Maryland.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Not yet. I went to the Center and I was there a year. It was when I came back from the Center.
SCARPINO: Where was the Center located?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: The Center is the Center for Advanced Study in the behavioral sciences in Palo Alto. It’s where they’d bring social and behavioral scientists, and that year I think I told you there were mathematicians and lawyers, et cetera. When I came back I had to figure out what do I do now since I had no job, et cetera. I was invited to the University of—I didn’t look for a job, which now strikes me as sort of funny, but the University of Connecticut called and asked would I like to be a visiting professor. I said, “Well, I guess.” I commuted one day a week. I’d go up on Thursday and come home on—I’d teach on Saturday and come home on—I’d go up on Thursday, teach on Friday, come home on Saturday. I ran my business the rest of the time. They wanted me to continue and I thought, no, that’s too hard. It was too cold up there.
SCARPINO: Well, the University of Connecticut, UCONN, that’s a hard place to reach.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yes, very.
SCARPINO: It’s not like you can just get off the train.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Exactly and I brought my car up there and my car, I bought it when I was in California, so it wasn’t wherever you buy a car it’s fitted with a kind of heavy duty battery and whatever for the region where it’s going to be delivered. Well my car was a little California gal and had a hard time adjusting to Connecticut where it wouldn’t start in the mornings because it was so cold, and the inside... You know what I mean when the inside of your nose freezes.
SCARPINO: I do. Yes.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, thank you because I was trying to explain that to someone the other day who didn’t know what I was talking about.
SCARPINO: I lived in Montana for 10 years. I know what that feels like.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I loved the people at the University of Connecticut. They were great. I’ve stayed in touch with them for a long time, but I didn’t want to live there. I said no and then I was asked would I like to be the interim Director of the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Maryland. This was when I came back in ‘80, ‘81, around that time. I ran my company. First I was at the University of Connecticut, then I was with the University of Maryland. Then I decided I liked the people there very much, but I didn’t like being the Director of the Women’s Studies Program because I felt I was dealing with, as an administrator, trivia, not about the substance of the program, but the administrative end. Someone came in to me, she was a visiting assistant professor and I’ll never forget this because it changed… it was an existential moment for me, she came in and dressed me down in no uncertain terms because she had put in a reimbursement request for 25 dollars a month or two ago. I had signed it and sent it forward. But you know the way universities take their own sweet time. She told me that her husband was enraged because they had lost the float on 25 dollars for two months. Driving home that night it so happened I almost was run off the road by a huge truck. I thought to myself, if I hadn’t been spared by a hare’s breath here, I would be gone. What would I have accomplished this month? I would have been dealing with the float on somebody’s 25 dollar reimbursement. I don’t want to live my life this way. This is not what I want to do. The next day I went in and told the provost that I was leaving at the end of the semester, which I did.
SCARPINO: Well, what did you teach at the University of Connecticut?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I didn’t have to teach. I didn’t. I just ran this program.
SCARPINO: At Connecticut?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Oh, at Connecticut I taught.
SCARPINO: What did you teach at the University of Connecticut?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I don’t even remember, some sociology course. I think I taught a course maybe on crisis management, but it was a real course. I didn’t teach at Maryland, I just ran this program.
SCARPINO: So when you first went to Washington to accept the position in government, did you go there expecting or hoping that you could make a difference as an activist as well as in your craft?
SCARPINO: So you kind of fell into that.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah. It sounded exciting to me. I had two choices at that moment that I remember. One was to go to OISE—oh, I had three, now that I think about it.
SCARPINO: I don’t know what OISE is.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: OISE is the Ontario Institute for Studies and Education in Ontario, Canada. It’s a very high-level, it’s like their National Institute of Education. One of my professors from Harvard had gone there and he had recommended me. I went there and I looked at it and I said, no, I didn’t want to do that. Then I was offered, and this was really nice, I was offered—it was my first real academic appointment, an associate professorship at Yale. I went there and I talked to them. I had been in California at that time and that’s when I was still at the Center, all these things happened. I was living in California and I remember going there like an idiot in open-toe shoes and it was cold. It was sunny in California, but in New Haven it was cold, it was snowy and I was freezing, my toes were wet. I thought, I’m not coming here. I don’t care what they offer me, so I didn’t go there.
SCARPINO: So the National Institute of Education was actually established in 1972. So when you went there it was squeaky new.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Right. I went there in ’73.
SCARPINO: How did you come to their attention?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Through this same professor who had been at OISE. He left OISE and came to the National Institute of Education and he was the one who told them about me.
SCARPINO: Who was that professor?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: His name was Bill Spady. He’s quite a remarkable guy actually. He left academia. He does other things.
SCARPINO: So as you’re living and working in Washington and interacting with all these women and these various ad-hoc capacities, did you ever think back to your days at Wellesley and go, I did make a difference.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: No. You asked me the other day do I think I’m a leader. No, I don’t think I’m a leader. I think I do things at a moment in time when I think there’s a need for it to be done. Okay? I try my hardest to make it happen. Sometimes I’m successful. Sometimes I’m not successful. I’ve always done it with other people. There are not things I just go and do all by myself.
SCARPINO: But that’s not a requirement for being a leader is doing it all by yourself.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: No. I just have been lucky enough to be at certain historical moments to be in places where I felt I could do certain things or wanted to do certain things, wanted to make certain things happen.
SCARPINO: Do you think that maybe one distinguishing quality of a leader is that maybe many individuals might want to make something happen, but a leader does it and you did.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah. I think leaders do make things happen. Peter Drucker says that. Leadership is performance. It’s doing the work. I mean, leadership is not just going out and giving speeches and getting people all excited. You have to do that too, because you have to articulate your ideas in a way that people want to do it. Sometimes I’ve had ideas and I talk about them and I don’t do anything about them, then somebody pushes me into doing it. That happened with the salon. I kept saying, we need to have a salon. Like a 15th century salon where all the brilliant minds of the century come together to discuss the most important issues. What could be more important than discussing what is going to happen to women in this country and in this world in the next 50, 100 years.
SCARPINO: Did the salon usually meet at your house?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Always. The year I went to the Center, the State Department apparently tried to do it and it was a huge flop. I don’t know how or where they did it. I think it was successful when I did it because it was so informal. I just sort of threw it together. I never knew how many people were coming. I never asked people to let me know. I just did a guesstimate of how many people there would be and I’d put out refreshments. People would say, oh, can we help pay. I didn’t want anybody to pay because people wanted it to be… wanted there to be a list and we’d send it out and people would pay dues. I didn’t have the time or the patience for that. I really didn’t want to turn it into that kind of a bureaucratic thing. It was much easier to spend a half day on the phone saying the salon is going to take place on such and such a day, such a night, at such and such a time. Everyone knew where it was. I held it when I was living in an apartment in Chevy Chase. I held it when I moved to Bethesda to a house, so people came.
SCARPINO: What happened to the salon when you went back to California in 1983?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I think it just sort of died, nothing happened. It didn’t go on. It was just too bad.
SCARPINO: I think you must have been the leader.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, maybe I was. I was the spirit, put it that way. I was the spirit behind and in front of the salon.
SCARPINO: What drew you to the Carter White House?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Their invitation. They invited me to come. It was a heavy time. When I came to Washington Nixon was still president and I didn’t go there because of Nixon. I didn’t go to the White House because of Carter. I was there because I was excited about the idea that it was a place—and the reason I didn’t go to Yale was because I felt even though I was interested—because I was interested in policy and they were offering me a position in policy, I felt I didn’t want to what I call armchair it. I didn’t want to be sitting in New Haven in an armchair pontificating about what kind of policy we should have. I wanted to be, since I was offered an opportunity, I don’t think I would have thought myself to go. I’ve had this very reactive, I’m ashamed to say, reactive kind of life. There isn’t any job, I think, that I ever had other than the first job that I had as a summer job that I ever sought out on my own. Every job that I’ve ever had people have come to me, and so I’ve been unfortunately or fortunately just reactive, saying yes to something and no to others.
SCARPINO: Or you created a situation by the extent of your experience and your work and so on where people sought you out.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: After I went I tried to do things that I thought were important. I came here, I tried to put together the Female Faculty Forum.
SCARPINO: That still exists, right?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Oh, definitely, very definitely.
SCARPINO: Are you still an active participant in that?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: As much as I can be. When they schedule it on Tuesday, my teaching day, I often don’t go. The other thing is I don’t think that I or anybody should sort of have a stranglehold on things. I think it’s great to sort of step aside and let the next generation come in and do stuff.
SCARPINO: Do you think that that’s a sign of an effective leader to know when it’s time to step aside?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Oh, I think it’s critical. A student of mine who’s at the World Bank did a study of countries in Africa, and the ones that were most successful were one where the leaders knew when to step aside. Mandela is a very good example. He only served one term. They wanted him to serve more. He said no. He didn’t have any identified, hand-picked successor. I mean, I think that even if, as in the case of South Africa, it doesn’t keep going up on an even trajectory. I think it’s important for new people to come in with new ideas, new ways of doing things. I or you might look at something at a given moment in time and we think that’s how it needs to be done now. But five years from now there’s an internet suddenly and that opens up totally different possibilities. For example, the Peace Plan. I never, never, never would have tried, even though I thought about those issues, I wouldn’t have presumed to do anything like that or attempt anything like that until social media arrived. I was really struck by a book I read many years ago by Sidney Hook. Did you know Sidney Hook, a book called The Hero in History?
SCARPINO: I don’t, no.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, he was at Stanford and I believe he was a political scientist, not a historian. He talked about the fact that the historical moment, how critical it is because you can be the greatest leader in the world with all the greatest ideas and the energy and the oomph to make it happen. But if the historical moment is wrong, it will pass right by you, and you’ll never hear from that person. If the historical moment and the qualities of mind or whatever that are necessary to make something happen in that period, exists in someone, if they come together, if there’s a faithful joining of those two, then that person is perceived as a leader. But that person with all those same ideas, those same characteristics, those same motivations, whatever, has not seen this leader, that historical moment is gone. Schwartzkopf was a very good example.
SCARPINO: General Schwartzkopf, first Gulf War.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Right. If the war had taken place one year, even six months later, he would have been retired by then. No one would ever have heard about him. No one heard about him outside of military circles before then. That was that moment where the historical moment was right.
SCARPINO: For 10 years you were in Washington, was that the right historical…
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Eight years.
SCARPINO: Eight years, I’m sorry, was that the right historical moment for a person interested in women’s issues?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. It was thrilling and I don’t use that word lightly. It was exhausting and it was fun and it was heartwarming, it was everything wonderful. The women I met were so fantastic, I mean, really—Jessie Bernard, do you know who she is?
SCARPINO: I do. I was going to ask you about her in a minute.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Jessie was a phenomenon. I mean, she was really, really great. I have pictures of her in the other room.
SCARPINO: You co-authored—co-edited a book for her.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: We did.
SCARPINO: I’m going to ask a different series of questions in a minute, but what do you think of the accomplishments in terms of women’s issues that you were associated with in that time period?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, I can’t claim that I had any responsibility for the Women’s Educational Equity Act because that had already been passed before I came to Washington. But the implementation of that and things that went with that, Joy Simonson was the person I described before, I worked closely with her. I worked closely with Florence. We just brought issues to the attention of the Congress and we brought issues to the attention of women. It’s too bad we didn’t have the internet because we could have taken over the world. Really, it would have made a huge difference. I think we made people aware of what women could do and made women aware that they could do these things. It was interesting because my mother used to say to me when I was a little kid, she used to say, when you grow up you can be anything you want to be. Then in the next breath she’d say to me, it’s a man’s world. Okay. So these are very contradictive messages. (laughs) I was too dumb to figure out that they were contradictory. I sort of disregarded it was a man’s world and I just kept doing what I did.
SCARPINO: You mother lived to quite a ripe old age.
SCARPINO: How did she respond to your government service?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I don’t know exactly. I don’t think she had any particular…
SCARPINO: Carter White House, Special Advisor to the White House’s Domestic Policy Staff.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: To the Domestic Policy Staff, and it primarily on issues of women and separately education.
SCARPINO: So what would you say that you accomplished?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: During that time?
SCARPINO: Yeah. About a year, right?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah. I think I was there a year or 18 months. Well, we brought a lot of issues to the attention of the White House and I think when they said education and women’s issues that they thought I’d spend five minutes on women’s issues during my lunch hour. But we did a lot of things and we did white papers and we did things that they had to come to grips with. I think we did create programs for women and we got budgets for women, for women’s issues.
SCARPINO: Examples of programs that you created would be what?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: We had, for example, even my own little program at the National Institute of Education, we had a contracts and grants program. We gave out more than a million dollars a year. It was much more than that, I think we had... I don’t want to give you a number because I don’t really remember, but we had a fair bit of money, and we gave contracts and grants to women researchers who would go out and do these studies, and they would be published and they would have an impact, so on all kinds of issues. Certainly, the Women’s Educational Equity Act has made a huge difference in universities and colleges and even I think in high schools because that’s the act that says that if you’re giving money to an educational institution for sports, that you have to give even-handedly to male sports and female sports. You have to give the same amount. The men in academic sports were enraged because that’s…
SCARPINO: So that’s where we get Title IX.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: That’s exactly where Title IX came from. The Women’s Educational Equity Act, Title IX is part of that.
SCARPINO: I mean, I wanted to be sure that somebody who’s listening to this connects those dots.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yes. That’s Title IX.
SCARPINO: You were responsible for implementing that act.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: For helping to implement. I wasn’t the only one, let me assure you, I was just one of hundreds of people, maybe thousands who were doing it. So please, I don’t in any way want to overplay what I did. I was just one of the many people there who worked together with a lot of enthusiasm and energy to make these things come about. But there were all kinds of grants that we gave for programs at different universities to do studies on women. I couldn’t begin to recount them. We gave money I remember to Dina Safilios-Rothschild who was at Case Western Reserve at the time and she got a huge grant to do a study on women. I mean, you could probably go back and look up NIE Grant.
SCARPINO: Right, those would be in there. If somebody wants to find them, those are a matter of public record. What did you learn about leadership while you were in the White House?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I learned a lot. I really did. I wasn’t even interested in studying leadership at that time. I was focusing on women, not on leadership, per se. But I learned a lot and I think I mentioned some of this to you yesterday. How people like to be at the seed of power, of what they perceive to be the seed of power. I call it the Garden of Eden. They want to be part of the leader’s entourage. There’s a wonderful book by F. G. Bailey called something and manipulation (editor’s note: the book is Humbuggery and Manipulation: The Art of Leadership), and it’s about leaders and how they manipulate their entourages and how the entourages manipulate the public, etc. It’s up on that shelf, that’s why I’m looking up there. I was astounded to see how people clung to that. There were hanging on to the White House for dear life and they wanted power. I had a certain disdain for that because I—and I still do, I feel you should only want authority or power to make whatever needs to happen happen at that time. You shouldn’t have this blank slate, that you just have “power” to do anything you want. Power for what? I keep asking the leadership of the ILA, leadership for what? What is it that we want to do with leadership? Is it that we want leadership because we want to feel we’re important and people look to us for our opinions or whatever, or is it because we want to accomplish something for a greater good, not for ourselves, not to make ourselves look fantastic, but to make a difference in the world. I think that’s what leadership is about and I think in Washington they have the capacity to do that. I feel absolutely outraged at the way they’re conducting themselves. I think we should turn out every single one of them and start afresh. I don’t mean the president, but I mean in the Congress.
SCARPINO: Who gets to decide what it means to make a difference?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, I think we all get to decide that and we all get to decide what differences need to be made. As long as they’re ethical and legal and they don’t harm people, that they add a measure of good, some positive increment to whatever, whether it’s where you work, or whether it’s in your local community, or it may be just in your neighborhood. When I came here I started a neighborhood watch. (laughs)
SCARPINO: Here means where you live right now?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Right here with the person across the street. Okay? So we started that. I mean, I like organizing things. I find that fun.
SCARPINO: Is that a mark of leadership, in general?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: No. I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Look at Gandhi. He couldn’t have organized his way out of a paper bag, but he was a brilliant, fantastic leader. I don’t think organizing is.... it helps if you know how to organize because you can bring people together to hear ideas and to get things rolling.
SCARPINO: Gandhi had a vision. Do you have one?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, I can’t put myself in that category.
SCARPINO: I’m not asking you to compare yourself to Gandhi.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, I think the Peace Plan is something that is a way of looking at the world as the way in which it can be if we choose to make it that way. When Robert Kennedy said, “I look at what is and I ask, what could be?” I think that that’s important. What could we do differently? Why are we wasting billions, trillions of dollars in the most obscene, negative way, killing people, blowing up buildings, polluting the atmosphere, doing things that are so destructive. What is the point? I honestly, maybe I’m missing something. I don’t get it. Why aren’t we taking that money and feeding people who don’t have enough to eat. Why aren’t we putting houses up for people who are living in tents? Why aren’t we educating people? I know I have a bias as an educator, but when I look at what goes on in the world in terms of hatreds and conflicts, so much of it comes from a lack of education, from a narrowness of perspective. Did you read that there was a minister in New Town –
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Who went to an interfaith meeting. I went back to see what denomination he was. He was Lutheran and he was chastised by the higher-ups in the church who sent him a letter saying he should apologize for going to a meeting where there would be other religious faiths represented, and he did apologize, if you can believe that. I’d say go fly a kite, myself. Then the one who asked for the apology got so much of an outcry against that because of his reason. Do you know what his reason was? That Lutherans—I didn’t even know this—apparently believe that Lutheranism and Jesus Christ are the only true way, you know, the only true religion, and if you go to something where there are others there, you are giving people the impression that you’re giving them status, you’re legitimating these other religions. Well, at any rate, I find that so antediluvian to say the least.
SCARPINO: You left the Carter White House in 1978, and you started…
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: No. I went to the Center. I left the White House because I was invited to the Center. You asked what I learned at the White House. I learned—what I started to tell you before—how people cling to power, even the tiniest vestiges, the illusion of power. They don’t even have to have power, okay? But just to be in a place where they feel that they’re in that aura and that they can say they worked at the White House. People who are answering phones as volunteers, and I told you there was a woman there who was in Carter’s advanced team, she was a volunteer, her mother would pay for her to go to whatever the city was where the advanced team had to go pay for her hotel bill, pay for everything, just so this person could say that she worked on the Carter advanced team. I found that incredible and incredulous.
SCARPINO: So you were invited to the Center and you were there for how long?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: You can only be there for one year.
SCARPINO: You had a research project.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: That’s when I was writing Gender Roles and Power. So I wrote a lot of it while I was there and diddled away a certain amount of time, I’m sure, and then came home and finished it.
SCARPINO: Then you went back to Washington after that year.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yes. I went back to live in Washington and that’s when I opened my own consulting company.
SCARPINO: LBS International Limited.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Then that’s when I taught the first year back at University of Connecticut. Subsequently taught, I didn’t teach, but ran the Women’s Studies Program at Maryland. It’s really interesting, I was really appalled by this. Somebody whom I met many years later who had been on the search committee out here said the one thing that he felt that was really bad on my resume was that I was the head of the—the interim head of the Women’s Studies Program.
SCARPINO: Why did you start a consulting firm?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I had to put a roof over my head. I had kids I had to feed. That’s what I knew how to do. I understood policy. The first contract I had was to do—very interesting, a contract that I wrote the proposal for and I did it with Amitai Etzioni. Do you know who he is?
SCARPINO: I don’t know.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, he was a sociologist. I say was. I think he’s still living. At any rate, he didn’t do any of it. It went through his company and he never had any part in it. But they wanted us to help the executive office of the president function more effectively. My first project in my company, it was between my company and his company, was with the White House under a different administration. Okay? By now this was the Reagan administration.
SCARPINO: Did they know who they hired?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I guess. I don’t think they really did, you know? I don’t think they did because they didn’t ask.
SCARPINO: I didn’t mean that you were unqualified, but you were the feminist and…
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: No. Political and I understood your point. I think they didn’t. All they did was read a proposal and decide on that basis. Then the second proposal that I wrote was for a strategic planning study to help the USDA Office of Research and Extension identify—teach them how to do strategic planning. We won that project and that was wonderful. It lasted for about two years or so and it introduced me to a world that I never knew existed. It was very exciting. It was all about agriculture, for someone who had never been on a farm. We wrote a whole bunch of recommendations. We wrote, I think it was for that project, that we wrote the 47 recommendations and they accepted them all, which was amazing, because when we came into it, I was like the worst, the most inappropriate person for that proposal, that one even moreso, because agriculture is… my metaphor was a small town stretched taught over the United States. Everybody knew everybody. Everybody went to a land-grant university. Everybody who went to a land-grant university who was now in that field had been taught by—this one had been taught by that one’s uncle, and this one by that one’s brother. It was very I don’t want to say incestuous, but everybody knew everybody, and so there was a lot of trust in the community. When I appeared on the scene it was like, whoa, who is this? Who is this Harvard person who never grew up on a farm, never went to a land-grant university, knows nothing. In the proposal I said, “We know nothing about agriculture, but we know a lot about strategic planning, and I present this to you as a strength because I come without any”—and this turned out to be far more important than I understood at the time—“we come to this with no preconceived ideas about what part of the system is stronger or better or whatever than any other. So we come to look at this with totally fresh eyes and to offer you our expertise in strategic planning.” We got the thing.
Then when I appeared on the scene, I remember one time going to a conference that was run by a tobacco company for all of agriculture, and I was on a bus from the hotel to the conference center sitting next to the deputy assistant secretary for extension. He said, “Oh, are you Jean Lipman-Blumen?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Well, you know we’ve been told not to talk to you.” I said, “What? What do you mean not talk to me?” “Well, we need to know if you’re going to write another…”—I think it was called the Hyde Report, or the Hite Report—there had been a study done some years before that had said that agricultural research was mediocre science, that was the phrase. They felt this was another outside person who didn’t understand agriculture coming in who would come in and say, this is—would reiterate that. But over the two and a half years that I did this I got to know the community very, very well and I really loved them. I thought they were like Norman Rockwell, decent human beings who were trying to do the right thing. In some instances the green revolution had been much maligned. They thought they were doing something wonderful. They didn’t realize that there was the other consequences and sequelae that came with pesticides and herbicides and all that. I learned a lot there.
SCARPINO: They were probably still angry at Rachel Carson for…
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Oh, yeah. They were. They were. The word environmentalist, that was like saying Satan. Environmentalist, conservationist, forget it, they were the enemy. That’s changed, I’m sure.
SCARPINO: In 1979 you co-edited your first book, Social Policy and Sex Roles with Jessie Bernard. I’m just going to say for the benefit of somebody who’s going to listen to this interview or read the transcript that in 1979 Jessie Bernard was a senior accomplished scholar. She’d written I counted 15 sole-authored books, nine co-authored books, dozens of articles and chapters, a pioneer in feminist sociology. I read a little bit of her stuff and I found a quote that she wrote about her profession and about society.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Now what did she say?
SCARPINO: She said, “I’m concerned, as any fair-minded person must be, with the effects of sexism on the position of women in our profession and in our society; but I’m also concerned, as any dedicated sociologist must be, with its effects on our discipline as well.” I don’t really know very much about sociology, but what I read there was the words of a scholar and a social activist asking people to think about fundamental social values and practices and to change. That sounds like you. I’m kind of wondering how you came to collaborate with Jessie Bernard. This must have been a little bit like collaborating with your disciplinary deity here. She was very well-accomplished, extraordinary well—how did you know her? How did she come to be your collaborator?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: This is what happened. We were together, we had both been invited to a conference at Radcliff and that’s where I believe I first met Jessie and she was living in Washington. I think I was at NIE by that time, maybe not quite, but it must have been close to that. NIE wanted to have in- house scholars, in addition—you see, they had this idea of the think tank that then blew up, so then they still had money to invite certain eminent scholars to come and spend a year at NIE to help them think through and be thought leaders. So I nominated Jessie, and Jessie lived in Washington, so it was easy for her to do it. She agreed to do it. She came to NIE and that’s how she and I got to know each other. That book, if I recall correctly, it’s sitting up there on the next to top shelf, if I recall correctly, that came out of a session at the International Sociological Association that Jessie and I ran, and we had people speaking on that panel. Then the International Sociological Association asked us would we do a book on it. We said yes. That’s how that came about. But then Jessie and I became dear friends. We became like family. We used to take walks together and she was a tough taskmaster. She was always on my case saying, “Well, what are you working on now? Tell me what you’re doing and why are you doing it?” I would be working on things, but that conversation, those conversations were very helpful to me for this reason and I find that it’s always the case. When you have people who ask you questions, substantive questions about what you’re doing, you can have an idea, but you don’t have all the interstices, you don’t have all the links. When you have to explain it to someone, you think you understand it in your head, but when somebody asks you, well, how is that connected to that, then you have to articulate it. You have to think that through. I go through the same experience when I face a computer screen, that I write something, and then I think, but how do I get from here to there. I mean, I’ve always thought this and this were connected, but what’s the in-between thing. Jessie and I used to take long walks and talk about—she was very, very work-oriented.
She was very serious. She had a good sense of humor. I don’t mean she wasn’t lighthearted and funny. I’ll show you a picture, a wonderful picture I have of her laughing that was so typical of Jessie. But she became like a mother to me. She kept egging me on to do this and that and the next thing. Then, I think when people ask me, how did I ever get the idea for connective leadership, I think—I wish Jessie were alive now, I know she did this. She said to me because I did the salon, and she thought I was this fantastic organizer, okay? She thought I could organize the world.
SCARPINO: She was right.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I think she gave me the courage to do it. Do you know what I mean?
She made me think I could. She said to me one time, “Jean, I think you need to bring together the pro-choice and the pro-life forces and get them to agree.” I said, “Oh sure, Jessie. How do you—I think I could just handle that on a weekend. That would be a simple thing to do.” I said, “How do you propose I do that?” She said to me, “Think about it this way. They disagree on a lot of things, but they both really are opposed to pornography. Begin there.”
SCARPINO: Were you in the Carter White House when this happened?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I don’t remember because I knew Jessie for a long time after that. I wasn’t thinking about connect—it must have been while I was still at, I think maybe at NIE, before the White House.
SCARPINO: She said the one thing they have in common is that they both dislike pornography. So then what did you do?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, I just sort of dismissed that possibility of my working with them because I thought, that’s not do-able. How am I going to do that? I have to work on things that I think I can have an impact on. But I think that planted a seed in my head somewhere, in my brain and my soul, that many years later grew into connective leadership, because that is what connective leaders do. They bring people together around issues that they care about and they disregard the disagreements between or among the groups. They don’t care if you’re Catholic and I’m a Jewish atheist. They say, don’t worry about that. Don’t get into that discussion with them. Talk about leadership because they both care about leadership, and once they get to know each other and like each other, they’ll discover they have all kinds of things in common that they will want to work together. You just have to be able to have the connective eye to see, what’s the connection between these two people or these two groups?
SCARPINO: Do you have the connective eye?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah. I think I do. I think I really do in a very conscious way. I mean, for example, a student when I went around the room the first day of one
of my classes this year, one of the people in the class said she worked with gangs, with L.A. gangs, and I forget what exactly she was working on. Well, I gave a talk at Mount St. Mary’s college a few months ago and I talked about the Peace Plan, and somebody there, a sister there put me in touch with somebody else called Sister Inez, who has worked with
L.A. gangs to turn them toward peace. So I told her to call Sister Inez and I put them together through the internet and she told me they had dinner together.
SCARPINO: You never really acted on this idea. It was just an idea.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: It was an idea. I never did anything about it. But I think that it sort of was in the back of my head. I mean, that’s the only—I can’t think of how else I might have come to think about connective leadership. But you see connective leadership is the tail wagging the dog on the research that I did with Hal Levitt on achieving styles because what we were interested in was—and this came out of the women’s movement and came out of my dissertation, I had asked one question in that huge questionnaire about how do you achieve your sense of satisfaction of achievement. Is it on the one extreme, remember these were married women doing their—typing their husbands’ dissertation, is it totally through your husband or is it totally through your own activities or some combination in between. That was called orientation to motive, achievement, satisfaction, known as OMAS, okay, because that started the whole thing in a way because we wanted to know how did women go about achieving their goals? Originally, it was just direct versus vicarious. Did you do it directly or did you do it through somebody else. You see, I was interested in vicarious achievement because I felt my mother was a vicarious achiever. I felt she had given up being a direct achiever when she got married and she wanted me to go out and do all these things and then she could say she was Jean Lipman’s mother. Up to a point she was satisfied with that. Later on, I think, she wasn’t satisfied with that.
SCARPINO: But vicarious became one of the achieving styles associated with connective leadership.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yes. I wrote some early papers on direct versus vicarious achievement in men and women and I gave papers on that at the American Sociological and the International Sociological.
SCARPINO: Jessie Bernard suggests then that you bring the pro-abortion and the anti- abortion people together, make the common ground pornography, and then the research that you did on achieving styles…
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Came together many years later because as this model became more articulated…
SCARPINO: We’re looking at the model for achieving styles and it’s the same one that’s on your website, Connective Leadership.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Right. Yeah. As that became more articulated through a huge amount of research that Hal and I and our graduate students did, and we saw that it was more than direct and vicarious, that there were all these other elements to achieving. People in those days were so interested in how women did things versus men did things because there was this mythology that women couldn’t do this and women couldn’t do that. I was on a task force for the U.S. military when I was in Washington where they took us to Ft. Benning, I think. Is Ft. Benning in Georgia?
SCARPINO: Yes. If it’s the training school..?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah. I forget where else. We went to two different bases where they had us up at 3:00 in the morning to do calisthenics because we were supposed to advise them on what MAS is. Those are the job categories.
SCARPINO: Military Application Specialty…
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: …should be closed to women or which should be open to women. I think their agenda was to make it so tough for us that we would say, you’re right, you’re right, women can’t get up at 3:00 in the morning and do calisthenics, forget it. This was a funny story.
SCARPINO: They may not want to, but no sane person wants to do that.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah, right. But they took us out on the artillery and we had to get down on our stomachs and shoot with the gun against our shoulder. I had the funniest experience because the target was, it seemed to me, a mile away. I mean, it was really far away. I had this big guy who—we each were assigned to an instructor, and he told us, get down on the ground and now you put it on your shoulder and you do this and you do that and now you pull the trigger. I wasn’t even trying to aim but I hit the target, and he thought I was aiming and he was so blown away; so was I, frankly. He said to me, “Well, would you like to try it again?” I said, “No thank you. I saw how it works.” I got up and walked away because I knew I couldn’t repeat that. I was on that task force and we made recommendations to the five-star general, whoever that was. So, I was involved… you make me remember things I’d long since forgotten. All of those things sort of came together and Hal and I worked on this beginning in 1973, I do believe. No, in 1972. We began in 1972 because I went to Washington in ‘73, but we maintained research groups. He had one at Stanford. I had one in Maryland. We would write papers together and we published about 15 papers at that time on achieving styles, direct, vicarious, the whole thing. Then he went on and did other things. He lost interest in doing that. That’s when I began to think about leadership and began to think about connective leadership. I didn’t even connect it to this originally. But then I began to understand how those things came together. That if you were a connective leader, you need all of this repertoire of achieving styles because the cues, environmental cues keep changing, and you need to be able to respond. In one situation I might have to do it by myself because no one else is there.
SCARPINO: Connective leadership is situational leadership. Is that the correct conclusion?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: That’s part of it. That’s not the only thing. But it has to do with this very special way of bringing people together who understand this central idea that right now the biggest challenges in the world, I think, are diversity and interdependence. John Kenneth Galbraith when he was asked, what, of all the great leaders that you met, what did they have in common? He said just one thing: They understood how to deal with the tensions of their time. I think the tensions of our time arise from this contradiction. This is what most people don’t see, that there’s a contradiction between interdependence and diversity, because diversity says, particularly for groups that are just developing and being accorded legitimacy for their identity, they want to be their own person or their own group with their own characteristics and their own uniqueness, their own—what is it that we talk about the U.S., what’s the word?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: No. It will come to me. But on the one hand that’s what diversity talks about, about uniqueness, who I am and how I do things differently. Even the women’s movement was about that. It was about women. First they wanted, say, we can do everything that men can. Then it sort of shifted and it was, women do other things, but these are good things to do and they do them in a special way. But then interdependence talks about mutuality, doing things together. Well, these things pull in very different directions. There’s a huge tension and a lot of anxiety that arises as a result of that tension. I think connective leaders, this is the central core of connective leadership, that they understand that contradiction between diversity and interdependence, and they know how to bring together groups that are individuals that are diverse, but who must willy nilly work and live together. Okay? So that is the core of connective leadership. But then you see there are other aspects to it because connective leaders more than any other kind of leaders have to be what I call authentic. Authentic for me, it was a poor choice of words because it really means something else in today’s lingo, but authentic to me means that the leader is committed not to him or herself, or his or her personal goals, but to the group, to the mission, to what they’re trying to accomplish. Therefore, when they use… they also have to have a consistent dedication, not to their own goals, but to the goals of the group or the strategy or whatever, and they also have to have accountability. They have to be willing to look at their mistakes, to acknowledge them to say this is how I got into this or got us into this mess. So it means transparency. But the reason authenticity is so critical, critical, because it means that they are ethical and they are legal and they are committed to something beyond themselves. That’s important because when they pay attention to the situational cues, and they move around this repertoire of very different kinds of strategies for accomplishing goals. People have to have bedrock belief in their integrity, so that if one day I say, let’s collaborate on this. But the next day you come over and there’s a sign on my door that says, do not disturb, working against a deadline. You think, what a hypocrite. She said she wants to collaborate, but now she wants to work herself. But if you know that what I’m doing is not for me, but it’s for the thing you and I are working on together. You say, I don’t know what she’s doing, but I trust her. I believe in her. I put myself in her hands. I accept the way she’s doing things, particularly, because she’s going to be transparent. When she opens the door, she’s going to say, Joe, I’m sorry I had to do that, but I had a deadline and this guy called for me, it’s Timbuktu and wanted it two minutes later, blah, blah, blah. Okay. So you say, fine, Jean, I get it, because I wasn’t working on my own stuff, I was working on the stuff we’re working on together. This all came together for me in this thing and I began to understand how connective leaders needed to have this very complex repertoire of styles that they could use in different combinations depending upon the circumstances, but they wouldn’t be able to use them with any effectiveness if they didn’t have authenticity and accountability. I call authenticity and accountability the two imperatives of connective leadership. Jessie would be shocked to think that that recommendation to me grew into this.
SCARPINO: Or, she might just be tickled to death that a seed she planted had grown into this.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I hope so.
SCARPINO: Just for the benefit of somebody who’s listening to this recording in the future or reading the transcript. We’re looking at a schematic, it’s also on the website for Connective Leadership Institute, that it’s a circle divided up. Well, I better do this in an organized way for myself here. So you’ve got three sets of leadership achieving styles; direct, instrumental and relational. Each of those achieving styles has three individual styles. You kind of end up with like a nine-fold palate there. For example, the direct achieving style includes three individual achieving styles; intrinsic, competitive and power. Instrumental achieving style also has three individual achieving styles; personal, social and entrusting. The relational achieving style also embraces three individual achieving styles; collaborative, contributory and vicarious. So there’s a vicarious that goes all the way back to your mother. For the benefit of somebody who’s listening to this or reading the transcript, they can always go to the Connective Leadership website or publications and look at them.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Or go on the web and look up connective leadership.
SCARPINO: We’ve talked some about how your research brought you to this particular model of leadership. But I’m thinking as I did reading for this interview and thinking about what we said last time that there’s more work here than just sort of advice literature, that Connective Leadership really encourages people to think about the way they practice leadership and the context in which they practice, it’s really calling for social change. It’s been kind of a geopolitical era and a connective era. Could you talk a little bit about that?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Right. Absolutely. I was going to bring that up because I do think that we have already entered into the connective era. When I first began writing this and I think that I noticed something on the web the other night. I think the first paper I wrote about this was in 1982 when I talked about connective leadership and females as connective leaders. At that time the connective era was just barely visible. Now, I think it’s totally visible. When Thomas Friedman talks about the hyperconnective world or people talk about globalization, the term globalization had not been invented at that point. The connective era, it means more than just globalization because it’s not just being connected to people around the globe, it’s being connected to people right next door and in the community and all over the place. It isn’t just globalization. The geopolitical era, which I think that was through the cold war period and we were just in the beginnings of the clarity I think of the connective era. But the geopolitical era was defined by geography, geographic borders and political ideology that coalesced so that there was the NATO pact and the Warsaw pact. In that period there were long-term alliances, big alliance, political, geopolitical alliances that lasted for very long periods of time and they hung together. They wanted to march in lockstep together. The member of the alliance that had the most relevant resources were usually military and economic, called the shots, and any member of the coalition who didn’t go along was looked at askance if not seen as a traitor or a royal pain. France often played that role, not because they were traitors or whatever, but because the French have their own mind. There are all these saying about the French, they don’t pay attention to their own leaders. De Gaulle thought that he was the only one who was good enough to be called a real Frenchman. In the connective era things are quite different. There are short-term coalitions, that leaders call people together to deal with problems that those constituents are concerned about and they work together on those problems and then they dissipate and maybe one or two people from that group or parties from that group would come together with a whole bunch of other people on a different issue. When Clinton was first elected, before he came into office, he ran an economic summit and he brought all these people together from across the economic spectrum and the media went crazy and they said, oh, this is wonderful. He’s brought all these people together. But will he be able to keep this coalition together over the next four years? I thought, wrong question. Why would he keep this group together to solve issues that have to do with education, that have to do with agriculture, that have to do with the environment, maybe some of these people would be there, but there are other groups and parties and constituents that should be brought to the table. It’s sort of like a kaleidoscope. There are all these pieces. You look at it and you turn it and depending upon the need, certain groups clustered together, they do whatever they do, and then they dissipate, they go off and do other things.
SCARPINO: But there’s still a leader there who’s making this happen.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah. Yeah. I think leaders are always important. I think we talked the other day about how the occupy movement really lost an incredible, incredible opportunity to make huge social change because they refused to deal with the issue of leadership. This idea of the geopolitical era giving way to the connective era and, again, there’s no sharp cutoff. It’s like waves on the beach. One wave comes in and washes in and then it adds, another one crashes over it. You can’t really see a clear cutoff point. Sometimes some dramatic thing happens usually in international events. It could be geophysical. It could be a meteorite.
SCARPINO: So crisis is an agent of change.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yes. Oh, without doubt. Without doubt. Things can change. 9/11 marked the end of an era in a certain way. But most of the time it doesn’t happen quite that way. Eras sort of emerge slowly from another. But I think that the connective era has begun to come into its own. The internet is the metaphor for the connective era. It didn’t exist when I was first writing about the connective era. But that’s clearly a metaphor for that.
SCARPINO: I’m going to just, like to give me a segue to do something here. In 1983 you accepted an appointment as the Thornton F. Bradshaw Chair of Public Policy and Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management, at the Claremont Graduate University.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah. It was then called Claremont Graduate School. SCARPINO: So we didn’t have Drucker or …
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: No. No. They had a business program.
SCARPINO: Peter Drucker was associated with it.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yes. He was here and he recruited me.
SCARPINO: Okay. I was going to say, you knew him. He recruited you.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: No. I didn’t know him.
SCARPINO: Well, you knew him after you got here.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yes. I had no idea who he was when he called me. That tells you how ignorant I was. We had long talks on the telephone for several hours at a time when he was trying to convince me that I should come and that I would not be hogtied and confined to a narrow area of expertise. I could do whatever I wanted. It so happened, we were talking about this with someone the other night, about how sometimes a job description is written that sounds like it was written for you.
SCARPINO: You and I were talking about this.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah. That’s what that was. When I read that, I thought, that is weird. That’s exactly what I didn’t do. I mean, I didn’t see the announcement. They came to me. But I didn’t want to move again. I loved living in Washington and my business was taking off and I was doing all kinds of fun things, so I didn’t particularly want to come out here.
SCARPINO: When you did come out here, you also served as Director of the Achieving Styles Institute and that was a private…
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: All that is, is my consulting work.
SCARPINO: Right. So you moved it out here with you.
SCARPINO: That became Connective Leadership.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Right. We changed names.
SCARPINO: For the benefit, again, of people listening or reading, in 1984 you published Gender Roles and Power, I think that was your first single author book. The book really was published to great acclaim and you were nominated for the Jessie Bernard award of the American Sociological Association. You won several prizes for that book including the Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Award of the American Sociological Association, but you didn’t get the Jessie Bernard award that year.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: No, and it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize as well and didn’t get it.
SCARPINO: We’ve talked a little bit about that, but in 1996 you published The Connective Edge: Leading in an Interdependent World, and I’m pointing that out because we just spent 15 minutes talking about that. That was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. This time you did win the Jessie Bernard award.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Did I?
SCARPINO: Sure. (laughs) At least that’s what the information that my research assistant said. Now, Dr. Bernard, Jessie Bernard was still alive then. Did you ever have a chance to talk to her about winning the prize named after her or anything like that?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: We never talked about things like that. One of the wonderful things about Jessie, and I hope that I learned that from her, she was a very—humble isn’t the right word, she wasn’t interested in acclaim, okay? She was interested in doing. She was interested in writing. She was interested in ideas. She didn’t care about acclaim. She got millions of awards and they meant nothing to her. I learned that from her and I also—my husband, however, was like that. He didn’t care about… he wanted people to respect his work, but he wasn’t narcissistic, he didn’t want everybody to adulate him. I really like that idea that you didn’t focus on the awards. Focus on the work. Focus on what you’re trying to do.
SCARPINO: I’ll follow up on that and ask the question in a different way. What do the acts of research and writing mean to you?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: They’re terribly important. They’re really central to my existence. That I like always have ideas about things I want to do. See all those folders up there. Those are the books that I’m keeping notes for future books.
SCARPINO: Behind me are piles of the current book.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Of the current book and I’ve worked on that this weekend, so I’m really happy about that. But writing and having ideas and talking with people who have good ideas is very, very important to me. It’s very central to my life. Jessie wrote until she was in her late 80’s or mid-80’s at least. I mean, she was phenomenal and every time I teach a class I write her name on the board and I tell them, I think I mentioned to you, I have a do not dare to die before you read list, that’s sort of a spontaneous list. She’s always on that list. It really breaks my heart when I ask people, do you know who Jessie Bernard is, not a hand goes up. But then I ask them, do you know who Maks Veber was, one hand goes up. Do you know who Emile Durkheim was? They don’t know who these people are. Maybe they know who Freud is, I don’t know. Probably not.
SCARPINO: I’d say that that’s a higher name recognition than the others that you mentioned. But as a person who teaches introductory history every semester I’m pretty well aware of what people don’t know.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: But Jessie was not interested in acclaim and I don’t care about it either, frankly. I mean, that isn’t important to me. What’s important to me is ideas and the promulgation of ideas, to get ideas out there. I don’t care if anybody associates my name with connective leadership or with the Peace Plan. I just want people to understand those ideas to the degree that they find them useful, use them. That’s what I care about. When people tell me that, for example, my certain books have been translated into Chinese and no one ever asked permission, I’d say, who cares? That’s fine. It doesn’t matter as long as the ideas get out. I don’t need royalties.
SCARPINO: Without asking you to self-promote, here’s the question that’s sort of been in the back of my mind, when Connective Leadership came out, it obviously represented years and years of research and thinking. We talked a little bit about the pieces that came together.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: I might add it’s not simply a theory. We have developed a set of instruments for measuring people’s achieving styles, their individual achieving styles, the achieving styles of organizations. We’ve done a 360 achieving styles measure, and we’ve done something that can evaluate people in terms of their achieving styles profile and the match between their achieving styles profile and the achieving styles profile of the role or the team or the project that they might be on.
SCARPINO: This is through the connective leadership, isn’t it?
SCARPINO: The question I wanted to ask you and I thought about this after I talked to Fred Fielder, who as quite a young man published what turned out to be a seminal article. I asked him, “As you could hear the presses running, did you have any idea of the impact that this was going to have?” And he said, “Yeah.” He said, “It kind of scared me. I was a young man and I really didn’t know what kind of an impact this was going to have on my colleagues or whether people were going to be jealous or whatever.” As the connective leader book was going to press, did you have any idea at all of what you were about to unleash, I mean, the impact that it was about to have?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Do you know what? I will tell you what I used to think when I worked on that book, and I was writing it in the other room, and I remember sometimes thinking to myself, am I killing myself writing this book? Will anybody even read it? Will there be one person who will pick this book up and actually read it? I was thinking at the other end of the spectrum. I sometimes wonder even as I write this book, is anybody going to read it, or when I wrote, The Allure of Toxic Leaders. I’m always surprised when people come up to me and say they have read it.
SCARPINO: Do you have a working title for the book that you’re now struggling through?
SCARPINO: Can you tell me what that is?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, yes.
SCARPINO: Just a working title.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah. The working title and I’m very bad at titles. I should never have called it The Connective Edge, but that was supposed to be a visual title. It was supposed to look like this, the connective whatever edge. This was supposed to be crossed out. No, I’m sorry. This was supposed to say the competitive edge because that was a phrase, and up here it was supposed to be written in connective. That was a stupid title because they took The Connective Edge, just put it on the book, and that meant nothing. When people tried to look up leadership books, this didn’t come up because leadership wasn’t in the title. Too bad, but, no, the title of the new book is Leading Through Crisis: Getting by on More Than a Wing and a Prayer. Do you like it?
SCARPINO: I do. It certainly sounds as though it’s going to connect back to another subject you’ve been thinking about for years and years and years, which is crisis.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yes. What it’s going to do is I’m trying to bring together, without being repetitive, my work on connective leadership because I believe that connective leaders will be better leaders in crisis because they have the flexibility. If you can use all of these, you have tremendous range, okay? You can do all kinds of things and you have to be able to move quickly and adaptively in crisis.
SCARPINO: I assume that there are some people, and maybe President Clinton is one of them, who are sort of intrinsically connective leaders. I mean, he seems to practice that kind of style. But I also assume that you believe that people can be taught to do this.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yes, I do. I do. I do think that that issue about leaders born and made, it’s a little combination of both in a sense. I mean, really great leaders, Gandhi taught himself. He really did. I mean, I’ve read Gandhi’s biography and I’ve read a lot about Gandhi. Gandhi taught himself and there were experiences that he had that were epiphanies for him that made him realize that he had to do things that he hadn’t done before that he wasn’t planning on doing. He didn’t start out to be that leader. He started out to be a barrister. He trained in London to be a barrister. He used to have his suits tailor-made at the same place where John Kennedy had his made. It took him a while to understand he couldn’t dress in the costume of his oppressors. He had to use more personal strategies, to use costume, to use drama, to use everything about himself to magnetize people, to draw them to his cause. I think people teach themselves to be leaders. Circumstances teach you. You understand when you do something and you fall on your face and that didn’t work, you learn not to do that again, or you learn that you did something a certain way and it worked. For example, I went to a UN conference on the status of women in Nairobi many years—in ‘85, and when we got there, there was a big to-do about not having enough hotel rooms. They’d had five years to get it together, but they didn’t listen and they didn’t believe that many people would show up. The first night we were there the director of the hotel called everybody together in the ballroom to announce that we would have to move out of our rooms because we were the first wave. The NGO’s come first, then there’s a week in which NGO’s and official state delegations are there and that’s when everything’s crowded. Then the third week it’s just the state delegations and the NGO’s have gone home. They wanted us to leave town before the state delegations came. We weren’t about to do this. I sat in the back of the room with Florence. We had gone there together. There was a woman up at the front—
SCARPINO: Florence’s last name for the benefit of our listeners?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Herman. There was a woman leading the discussion and saying, what should we do? How do we deal with this? Blah, blah, blah. This was going on and it was midnight and this woman walked off the stage. Everyone thought she went to the restroom or something. She didn’t come back. It was like this throng, this leaderless throng. Florence and I decided that we would have to do something about this. We got a petition. There were 2,000 women there. I don’t know that we got all of them to sign it, but we felt we were speaking in their name. I called up the office of the president of the country and said, “We are here in Nairobi and here’s the situation and we need help. We expect the president to help us. I’d like to come talk to him.” It was wonderful.
There was a woman by the name of Judy in President Daniel Moi’s office and she said, “Okay, bring your petition over.” Florence and I got our act together and we went over to bring this petition to the president’s office. It was really surreal because we’re walking down the main street of Nairobi and we’re looking at each other saying, “Do you think this is really happening?” This sounds so bizarre. We took a little time off and we went shopping for about half an hour to get our bearings. Then we went off and went to the president’s office and we handed this over to Judy. We didn’t get to see the president. But then we decided we needed to go talk to the head of British Airways because all these people had come in on British Airways and if they had to go home early… These were poor people from developing countries who had saved for five years to come to this thing. They had paid their hotel bill in advance. Have you ever heard of that before?
SCARPINO: Actually, I have.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, I never had.
SCARPINO: I got caught in that hustle when I went to Denmark.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, I’ve never heard of it. We went to talk to the head of British Airways. Now, this is what I mean about how a crisis can really make a difference. I’m not somebody who puts myself forward and says, well, I’m Jean Lipman-Blumen and I’m so-and-so and so-and-so. But I figured this was a time that I had to throw caution to the wind. Bostonians write letters and say may I have an appointment, but there was no time. We went there and I just handed them my card from Claremont Graduate University and I said, “I’m Professor Lipman- Blumen from the Peter Drucker blah, blah, blah. I would like to speak to Mr. So-and-So.” I mean, I had done my homework and I knew who it was. She said, “Wait one minute.” Then we were led into the CEO’s office and I realized something. That’s not the way I prefer to live my life, but I know I can do it when I have to. Okay? That’s true for everybody. That may not be the way I like to conduct myself.
SCARPINO: You were pointing at the achieving styles model.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yeah. I’m pointing at personal. It worked in that crisis and it gave me a lot of confidence to know that if I needed to, I, in an emergency, I could call on that. I could do that if I had to. That’s what we try to teach people. Not to transform you, to have you go from being somebody who is a collaborator to being a competitor every minute of your life. But if there are times when you have to compete, then you have to be able to do it and feel comfortable doing it, not feel like you’re a fraud.
SCARPINO: Know when the time is.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Right. Read the situational cues correctly.
SCARPINO: I assume that your firm because the Connective Leadership Institute after your book came out.
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Long after. It’s only in the last three years that we changed the name because we felt no one knows what achieving styles are. What does that mean? I have to go around explaining it to everybody. But people, even if they don’t understand connective, they understand the word leadership. We thought it would be better to change the name and we did.
SCARPINO: I’ve been on your website and we talked a little bit about some of the instruments that you have on there a minute ago, so I want to kind of set up a question for the benefit of somebody who’s going to listen to this. There are a number of scholars of leadership who have institutes or instruments for measuring or assessing leadership. Fred Fiedler has a contingency model or at least he did when he was still active. The least preferred co-worker measured on several, eight level bipolar scales. Edgar Schein developed a model of process consultation which he widely applied. Manfred Kets de Vries, co-founder of the Consulting and Coaching for Change, creating collective change agents. Frances Hesselbein, founder and CEO of the Peter F. Drucker foundation for non-profit management. There are others. Here’s the question that I have. What is distinctive in that universe about the Connective Leadership Institute and its approach?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, it does something very different. We’re trying to help people gain some insight into how they go about accomplishing their tasks and how they might be more effective as leaders, as connective leaders. We try to articulate the overarching model of connective leadership. But then I feel it isn’t enough to tell people to be connective leaders. You have to tell them, what does that mean behaviorally? How do I act like a connective leader? Don’t tell me to go out and be a connective leader and connect this person. How do I do it? In the instruments that we’ve developed, we can show people what their profile, what their leadership profile looks like right now. What are the styles or the behaviors that they tend to use most frequently and how many of them they feel comfortable with. Then we can also help them to look at their organizations and see the degree to which they fit with their organization, the people in the organization fit with the rewards structure or the culture of the organization. There are many things that you can do with this. I mean, sure these other instruments—and I’m not an expert on all the others, but I’m sure that each one has its value, but we’re doing something slightly different. We’re trying to give people insights into their own leadership behavior and make their behaviors and the possibility of change accessible to them. We train people to not only to understand and know what their profiles are, but we train them in developing new ways of doing things, practicing the styles that they’re not as comfortable with.
SCARPINO: In 1999 you published with your husband, Harold Leavitt, Hot Groups, and I’m going to skip over that for a minute because I really want to talk to you about your Peace Plan before we run out of time, and if we have time, I’ll come back to that. Your Hot Groups is between covers and the Peace Plan is not. I mean, it circulates on the internet. You’ve written and are circulating a draft paper called, “A Connective Leadership Strategy for Global Enduring and Sustainable Peace: Make It Happen.” We actually talked last time about how you put the “make it happen” on there, and the connective leadership era, connective leadership are featured elements of your connective leadership strategy. Just for the benefit of somebody who’s listening, I pulled a quote off page five, which I’m just going to read a couple of sentences. You said, “The worldwide financial crisis that has brought us to the brink of disaster has also shaken our confidence in leaders. Leaders have failed us egregiously. We need to step back and rethink leadership. What is the purpose of leadership? As we move forward what constitutes visionary, principle and courageous leadership? What are all the leadership development programs and research initiatives designed to do? What exactly are they accomplishing?” This sounds to me like Jessie Bernard was whispering in your ear when you wrote this. Then I talked to Kathy Pelletier who told me you think of concepts and ideas for a better tomorrow long before we realize we need them. I was going to ask you if you picture yourself that way, but I have a better question. What do you consider to be some of the essential elements of a better tomorrow based on your Peace Plan? What do we have to do to get it right?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, we have to do a lot, and everybody has to do a lot. There’s a lot of heavy lifting to be done and nobody can be excused, okay? No country, no sector of any society, so maybe now we’re taking the salon and raising it to an exponential level or something. But I think every society has to rethink what it is doing and how it can do it differently. For example, in the government, and each country will have to look at the plan and adapt it for its specific characteristics and requirements because our government is different than other governments, but then there are others with which we have a lot in common. For example, in a democracy and here in the United States, we have a system whereby we have elections that go on endlessly, that an immense amount of money is spent, mostly it goes to the media, on campaigning. Six billion dollars was spent by Obama and Romney. Six billion dollars, what a colossal waste. Think of what that would have meant if it were reallocated to other things. I’ve been asking the question, leadership for what for quite a long time now, maybe five or so years. I began to ask that question when De Cultu (spelling???) interviewed me for the International Leadership Association. He interviews people as a session. Then, when I was asked to go to Nanjing to talk in 2010 and I was supposed to be answering the question: What can business do to address the 2008 financial meltdown? These things came together. I thought, why not take peace and use peace as the focal point of revitalizing economies? When John Kennedy talked about going to the moon, people thought that was a little bit bizarre. They couldn’t see any pragmatic benefit from it. But we’re still living off of many of the engineering innovations that came from that. I was thinking, what if we turn our economy and every world economy 180 degrees? Right now the defense is the second largest industry in the world and it’s certainly huge here. What if instead of spending all that money on defense, we turned it around and we spent on peace? What if we took half of the budget or more of the budget from the defense department and developed departments of peace, and took the money from the defense and put it in the department of peace? Made the defense industries worldwide non-profit so that -- let them do it on a patriotic basis, be a non-profit? If that’s what you’re trying to do to defend the country, then be patriotic about it. I mean, in World War II there was legislation against profiteering from the war and people are profiteering from the defense business. So if we turned it around and we said, okay, now the Office of Peace will offer for-profit contracts for peace entrepreneurship, peace innovation, peace R&D, sustainability, all these things that would benefit the world. Why are we spending trillions of dollars killing people, blowing up structures that people work in and live in? I mean, it defies credulity. It’s madness, utter madness to be doing that. My thought was, could I look at every sector of society and see what changes could that sector make? What could education do? A beginning that would focus on peace. What about teaching kids from kindergarten on about peace, about anti-bullying, teach them to mediate, teach them to negotiate. At universities, why do we have requirements? At my university you cannot graduate, you cannot get a PhD without taking at least one trans-disciplinary course, okay? Why is that more important than studying about peace? Why shouldn’t we require that everybody who graduates from high school must take at least X number of courses on peace, same in the university? Why don’t we have centers for reconciliation for seemingly intractable problems? The Northern Ireland case is a case in point. That went on for decades, okay, and people said, “Oh, it can’t be—we can’t resolve it.” It got resolved. It’s not perfect, but they’re not killing each other anymore, and they are talking, and there will be ups and downs, and there was a recent down over there. But still in all, there are ways to do it, and the idea would be that you invite people, groups to come, like the Israelis and the Palestinians, and they agreed to come without any media allowed in. Okay? I think the media distorted it all. They have to agree that they will stay until it is resolved. If they get to an impasse, they can separate for 72 hours, but they must come back. When it is resolved, the people who are key in that resolution will come back and help the next group and keep refining the process for how you reconcile a seemingly intractable conflict. I think that there are so many things that we can do in every single sector. I think the media have a role to play. I think films and entertainment have a role to play. I want that to be crowd- sourced. I want people to read it and to add stuff to it. I think that we have to think de novo. We have to think anew about all of these issues. When I thought about the Office of Peace, I thought, this is no new idea under the sun. I’m sure that’s been thought of before. Well, in the footnotes I think you’ll see that Benjamin Rush, who signed the Declaration of Independence, there’s an essay on the web called “An Office for Peace,” in which he even describes what the room will look like where they sign the peace documents. Okay? That has been introduced into our Congress innumerable times in recent years. I bet if you ask most people, myself included before I looked it up on the web, if they knew that there were initiatives or bills that have been introduced for peace, a department of peace or an Office of Peace, most of us would say no. Okay? But there has to be a time when we begin to see what we haven’t been able to see up until that moment.
SCARPINO: So what’s the connective leadership strategy?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, I do think—how does that come into play?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, I do think the connective leaders can see things, they can see the connections among things and people. They can see how to bring these groups together. For example, the implementation strategy is simple. The implementation strategy calls for—it says in there the Nobel Peace Committee, but it could be some other committee that is perhaps perceived as less political than that. But a group that would have legitimacy in the eyes of the world is a fair-minded group. If you go back and read Nobel’s will, he talks about the committee having what he calls Congresses about these issues. I would like them to call all the countries of the world together to amend it for their own region, to sign onto it, to set benchmarks, and to have them come back every other year and report on how much progress they’ve made. In the intervening years, in the alternate years, I would like the sectors to come back, the education sector globally, the health sector, the legal sector, all the different sectors to come and meet with their counterparts from all over the world and get ideas and connect and figure out how can we work together, how can we make this happen. I keep coming back to making it happen.
SCARPINO: Do you think we can make it happen?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Yes I do. I believe what Margaret Mead said, that all it takes is a group of dedicated people to make anything you want happen.
SCARPINO: You and I have been talking for a little over two hours, so I’m going to kind of pull this together. I know there’s more that we could say, but we’re going to have to wrap it up. I have two questions that I want to finish up with. One is, you said somewhere that leadership is a responsibility, not an entitlement or a privilege. What did you mean by that?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Well, I think exactly what it says. When you’re a leader, you have a responsibility to the group who recognizes you as such, who’s put its faith in you, to help them accomplish their goals, to help them refine their goals and to make sure that this really is implemented, maybe even in a better way than the group ever thought. It’s not an entitlement. It’s not about you as the leader. Get over yourself. It’s about the mission. It’s about what you’re trying to accomplish to make the world a better place. We only have a short time on this planet, each of us, so would you like to die and have a tombstone that said: “Here lies Joe Blow who never did anything for the world, he only did stuff for himself and his family.” I wouldn’t want that said about me. I would like to feel that when I die that I will have over the period of my life come to my senses enough and woken up enough to realize that I had an obligation to do things, to try to make the world, even in the smallest possible way, better, fairer, more productive; not in the money-grubbing sense of the word, but to flower so that we take whatever intelligence and sensibilities and good humor and conscience that we have and harness them in the name of changing the world to make it a better place.
SCARPINO: Last question. Is there anything that I should have asked you that I didn’t, or anything that you’d like to say that I didn’t give you a chance to say?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Hardly. I mean, I think I’ve said far more than I should have said, probably, or that I’ve ever said about my work to anybody. But I do care about the ideas. I don’t care about attribution. I wouldn’t want someone to plagiarize my work. I mean, I’m not that benign. I care more about ideas being out there. I don’t care about, for example, the peace plan being known as my peace plan. I try to train myself not to call it my peace plan, to call it the peace plan, because I want it to be something that belongs to many more people, that it doesn’t belong to me and it’s shouldn’t belong to me. It doesn’t need my name. If it has intrinsic merit, that merit will propel it forward, so I just care about making it as fantastic and as compelling as we possibly can make it so people will say, of course, we’ve got to do it!
SCARPINO: Do you think that a mark of a good leader is a person who has the ability to formulate and communicate a compelling idea?
LIPMAN-BLUMEN: Oh absolutely.
SCARPINO: Thank you for everything. On behalf of myself and the Tobias Center, the International Leadership Association…
(END OF INTERVIEW)