Valerie Patton

Valerie E. Patton, MA, MSW

Happy New Year! I hope your year is off to a good start…full of promise and opportunity! I’m excited as this is our first newsletter of the New Year! I’m humbled and honored to serve the St. Louis Business Diversity Initiative. During the Initiative’s 11-year history, the Initiative has experienced steady growth both programmatically and financially. This newsletter is to share with you lessons on leadership and to keep you informed on key dates and highlights of the Initiative. We welcome you to visit our website for more information. You will find we continue to offer a valuable service to the St. Louis region while promoting our values of: education and awareness; collaboration; inclusiveness; and respect.

LEADERSHIP MOMENT – something to ponder…

Strength in the Struggle: Leadership Development for Women by Vashti M. McKenzie. This book is designed to create an assortment of lessons which will give confidence to leaders who serve in the best of circumstances and those who need support in hostile environments. Strengthen in the Struggle is a potpourri of sermons, wisdom, “tidbits,” and quotes to help you find answers which strengthen your leadership. Please know these leadership lessons are not gender specific.

Chapter 3 discusses those extraordinary experiences which have the power to change our lives. Rev. McKenzie illustrates this by “Dorothy’s Leadership Lessons,” based on the century-old children’s classic by L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite stories. After reading this chapter, I looked at Dorothy totally differently. Dorothy went from playing with Toto to finding her way home and leading three men to their heart’s desire.

So, let’s explore “Dorothy’s Leadership Lessons” in more detail.

  1. Dorothy’s Leadership Lesson Number One: Be aware of what is happening in your environment. Leaders must be vigilant. They must be aware of the activity and action going on around them.
  2. Dorothy’s Leadership Lesson Number Two: Never get so far away that you cannot get back to safety in time. We have all known individuals who were not paying attention to their lives and got caught up in a whirlwind. i.e. fired; burned-out, addicted, overdrawn.
  3. Dorothy’s Leadership Lesson Number Three: Be careful where you land. When things are out of control, everyone hopes for a soft landing but hard landings are tough for everyone. Do your best to maintain equilibrium in a cyclone of a situation can be difficult. Do not bring anyone down with you.
  4. Dorothy’s Leadership Lesson Number Four: Make the best out of every bad situation.
  5. Dorothy’s Leadership Lesson Number Five: Know where you stand. Pay attention as you go along in life just in case you have to go back by yourself. Take notes. Keep a journal. Ask questions. Do research and analyze the data. Keep track of your gains and losses. Obtain reports. Do reports. Keep reports on file. Read, read, read…
  6. Dorothy’s Leadership Lesson Number Six: Work with what you’ve got. Learn to work with what you have until something else is presented. It may mean additional in–house training, conference attendance, college courses, adjusting to the particular needs of your co-workers to name a few.
  7. Dorothy’s Leadership Lesson Number Seven: Develop relationships with both men and women.
  8. Dorothy’s Leadership Lesson Number Eight: Try to turn an enemy into a friend. Attack the problem, not the personality. Disagree without being disagreeable. Get the facts. Identify common interest.
  9. Dorothy’s Leadership Lesson Number Nine: Be wary of false wizards. There are those persons who promise a lot and deliver little. Watch out for those who are willing to risk your career and never put theirs on the line. Burst their balloon and move on.
  10. Dorothy’s Leadership Lesson Number Ten: Know your own power.

SOURCE: McKenzie, Vashti M. Strength in the Struggle: Leadership Development for Women. Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2001.

WOW! What a journey for Dorothy definitely not a destination! She met new people, learned more about herself, her courage was tested, her skills were tried and she survived the difficult situation she was thrust in. As we move forward, you too can be Dorothy! Choose your battles carefully and know the power you possess is within so you can be the very best leader possible.


Great By Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen

The Way We Are Working Isn’t Working by Tony Schwartz, Jean Gomes and Catherine McCarthy

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by David Logan


Session II Kick-Off of the Wohl Development Project will be held Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 5:30pm.

  • Session programming includes: Character Chess, Acting, and a Speaker Series
  • We are looking for volunteers to help facilitate the sessions. Please contact Harlan Hodge at for more information or to volunteer.

Gateway Connections…an orientation to welcome professionals of color to the St. Louis Region will be held Friday, March 16, 2012 from 1pm-4pm.

Recruitment is now open for the Initiative Fellows Program…yearlong leadership and professional development program. Deadline May 11, 2012. YOU MUST BE NOMINATED TO PARTICPATE!


Program Year Five Culminating Event Speaker Frankie Muse Freeman, Esq. was recently named the 2011 Citizen of the Year, an award sponsored by the Post-Dispatch.

Fellows Alumni Chelle Adams and Sarajeni Hammond have been selected by The St. Louis Business Journal, 40 Under 40, Class of 2012.

Current Fellow Lashanda Barnes and Fellows Alumni Harlan Hodge have been selected by The St. Louis American Foundation as 2012 Young Leaders.

Copyright © 2011 Saint Louis Business Diversity Initiative. All rights reserved.
If you want to unsubscribe click here. To view this newsletter on the web click here.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.