I have worked closely with Bob since 2000, when I invited him to join the Berkana Institute at a time when we were going global and focusing on supporting younger leaders in many different countries, especially those in the Global South. Together with a few other colleagues, we developed several programs and initiatives, and discovered hundreds and thousands of leaders emerging from their communities filled with bold ideas and a deep desire to serve their communities. These people were not formally appointed leaders, but those who saw a need and were brave enough to step forward. They were leaders who knew they had to mobilize their communities, and not fall into the heroic leader trap. They were extremely committed, yet often lacked the tools and confidence to be as effective as possible.
Bob worked tirelessly with these people and communities. He was a mentor, coach, friend, learner, teacher and theoretician. He moved easily among these many roles, becoming a trusted friend and wise counselor to many people over the years. Bob has extraordinary levels of curiosity and caring. He wants to see with new eyes; he wants to understand what he is seeing; he wants to be able to bring others into his explorations; he wants to ensure that new ideas get translated into actions that work; he wants people to succeed in bringing their aspirations into reality. And his deepest motivation is to ensure that these new leaders, with their ideas and capacities, can make a difference in creating a future of richer possibilities.
Bob has a deepening commitment to understand how communities change and develop into healthy and resilient entities where all people are served and all can contribute. After working on the ground with people in many different cultures and countries, Bob used his experience to develop his theory of “Enspirited Leadership” for his doctorate and subsequent work and publications. I believe this is a major contribution to the field of leadership—complex, wholistic, culturally sensitive and well-grounded in experience. It also demonstrates Bob’s capacity to develop a coherent theory from his work, even while fully engaged in the work. This is a skill rare in most academics and consultants. People either do, or think. Bob has demonstrated an outstanding capability to do both.
From when I was in Croatia working on creating Horizon, Bob was always a mentor and friend. Besides his deep wisdom and amazing guidance, Bob was simply one of the best people to work with. He just exerts caring to the point that he’s the only person I know that could call you a “name” and you’d thank him for doing it out of caring for you!