ILA Podcast

Beyond Whiteness in Leadership Theorizing

Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders

with Dr. Donna Ladkin, Dr. Cherie Bridges Patrick, & Dr. Marion Missy McGee


While race is rarely spoken about within leadership theorizing, Dr. Donna Ladkin, Dr. Cherie Bridges Patrick, & Dr. Marion Missy McGee deconstruct leadership theories to reveal the unconscious racial perspectives behind them. 


“The way in which we use language, any language, is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the many assumptions, power dynamics, and other relationships that underpin it.”

“There’s a way that language and discourses foreground things and make things very obvious, and a way that it backgrounds things.”

Regarding leadership theory – “First, we have to understand what purpose is being served? And then we can think about, do we want to align ourselves with that? Is there another purpose we want to be serving? And maybe we should look to those kinds of theories instead.”

“More recently, my critical eye has turned to the way in which race is very rarely actually spoken about within leadership theorizing. But at the same time, it’s very much there, in terms of much leadership theorizing is written from a particular racial perspective, and that is a white perspective.”

About Dr. Donna Ladkin, Dr. Cherie Bridges Patrick, & Dr. Marion Missy McGee

Dr. Donna Ladkin is a professor of leadership and ethics at Antioch University. She is an internationally recognized leadership and ethics scholar whose philosophically-informed publications explore aesthetic, ethical, and embodied aspects of organizing and leading.  Her theoretical work is underpinned by a strong commitment to the realm of practice and is informed by extensive consulting experience in both public and private organizations. Her current research focuses on exploring the structural and organizational dynamics which limit follower and leader agency within organizations, particularly in relation to their desire to act ethically.

Dr. Cherie Bridges Patrick is a leadership coach and educator, consultant, clinical social worker, and founder of Paradox Cross-Cultural Consulting, Training & Empowerment LLC. Cherie combines nearly 12 years of trauma experience with relational neuroscience to heal racial and social trauma, repair and build relationships with the goal of normalizing, generative justice-centered dialogue. Dr. Patrick has extensive experience in community mental health and engaging with immigrant families around the complexities and trauma of global displacement and resettlement. Her research examined how subtle and nuanced racial dominance was reproduced by justice-seeking professionals in day-to-day workplace discourses. She has also co-authored publications around racial dominance and racial justice in leadership.

Dr. Marion Missy McGee is a research practitioner who specializes in expanding and reframing conventional narratives to create more equitable leadership ecosystems. As an organizational strategist, she administers the design, implementation, and evaluation of domestic and international programmatic initiatives for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, located in Washington, D.C. Marion’s scholarly research contributes to closing the gap between race and leadership through a multidimensional lens while amplifying lesser-known histories, increasing unexplored narrative exemplars, and providing greater empirical evidence from the vantage point of African American leaders.

Host Scott J. Allen

Scott Allen

Scott J. Allen, Ph.D., is the Standard Products—Dr. James S. Reid Chair in Management at John Carroll University. He is an associate professor and teaches courses in leadership, management skills, and executive communication. He is also a communications coach, consultant, author, podcast host, and entrepreneur. For almost two decades, he’s worked with clients to improve their leadership and communication skills. Learn more about Scott here.

About Phronesis

Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders offers a smart, fast-paced discussion on all things leadership. Scott and his expert guests cover timely, relevant topics and incorporate practical tips designed to help you make a difference in how you lead and live.