ILA Podcast

The Conversation

Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders

with Dr. Robert Livingston, Harvard Kennedy School


Scott sits down with Dr. Robert Livingston to discuss his new book, The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth about Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations.

Quotes from The Conversation

“When it comes to performing mental gymnastics most of us are Olympic Athletes.”

“While many Whites believe that color grants them no special privilege, almost no white person believes that the color of their skin is a burdensome cross to bear.”

“If we summarize the origins of racism (and sexism) in a single word, it is power. It is both the desire to maintain power and the fear of losing power.”

“A more secure and happy person is a more tolerant person. You can reduce prejudice simply by feeling good, calm, and secure.”

“Racism occurs when individuals or institutions show more favorable evaluation or treatment of an individual or groups based on race or ethnicity.”

“Prejudice is an attitude-a set of internal beliefs, feelings, and preferences. Discrimination refers to actual behaviors, decisions, and outcomes.”

About Dr. Robert Livingston

Dr. Robert Livingston is a social psychologist and one of the nation’s leading experts on the science underlying bias and racism in organizations. For two decades, he has served as a diversity consultant to scores of Fortune 500 companies, public-sector agencies, and non-profit organizations. Prior to joining the Harvard Kennedy School in 2015, he held professorships at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and the University of Sussex, where he was the chair of the organizational behavior area as well as the founder and faculty director of Centre for Leadership, Ethics, and Diversity (LEAD). His research on race, implicit bias, leadership, and social justice has been published in top-tier academic journals such as the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Academy of Management Journal, Psychological Science, and Leadership Quarterly.

Dr. Livingston’s work has also been featured in popular press outlets such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. His article “How to Promote Racial Equity in the Workplace” was the winner of the 2020 Warren Bennis Prize, awarded to the best article on leadership published in Harvard Business Review each year. 

His groundbreaking and influential approach to combatting racism is detailed in his newly-released book The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth about Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations published by Penguin Random House. The book debuted as a national bestseller in February 2021, and has received high praise from media outlets, book critics, and industry executives. In his spare time, he enjoys jazz, wine and whiskey tasting, gastronomy, philosophy, interior design, real estate investing, and hiking.

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.