Select Page
  1. What is your relationship with leadership?

Luke Hartman: When I was a small child, I always dreamed of being a symphony conductor. My parents would take me to hear the orchestra and explain the intricate nuances of the different pieces being performed. My focus was always on the conductor…the sheer energy, passion, and understanding of making one unified sound out of such complexities. What I remember more than anything is hearing the first chair violin play a singular note and then all the many musicians tuning and rehearsing independently and the beauty of the disorganized when all of a sudden a conductor would walk out from behind the side curtain and the sounds of disorganization would fade to complete silence. The conductor would hold the baton up high, and then with one swooping motion, the most powerful sound of the unified collective would rush through my entire body. I never became a conductor per se, however, I have used the symphony conductor as a lifelong metaphor for every leadership position I have ever held. Whether a classroom teacher, head college basketball coach, college professor, middle school administrator university vice president, or behavioral healthcare administrator, the goal is the same…to take many unique parts and maximize their potential to reach the sound of excellence.


  1. What do you believe to be the essence of a true leader?

Luke Hartman: A true leader is one who is able to navigate the murky middle, navigate ambiguity carefully and walk around issues viewing the complexities of challenges from all different sides and through a variety of lenses. The essence of a leader consists of treating each person with dignity and respect while at the same time caging the tigers who torment and work to undermine and destroy progress. A leader is not afraid of trial and error yet uses data and experience to guide decision making. I have learned that a true leader behaves in a manner that is consistent with the leader’s values. A leader must be able to have courageous conversations even conversations that are uncomfortable and must not waver in decision making just because of political context and popular sensationalism. A true leader respects policy and changes policy when it no longer makes sense or is found to be hurtful to others. Leaders are able to laugh at themselves and respects the stories that each person brings to the table. A true leader not only respects diversity but celebrates diversity and works toward being inclusive, understanding that it is through inclusion that one arrives at the best decision.


  1. Who is someone you admire for their leadership?

Luke Hartman: I really admired the leadership of former president Barack Obama. My admiration is not due to his political affiliation but his ability to demonstrate composure, professionalism, critical thinking, and his rhetorical giftedness. President Obama demonstrated both care for those who suffered at the hands of police officers while also lifting up and respecting the difficult and challenging work of law enforcement. He was able to create worldwide allies while also working at holding countries accountable for acts of terror and violations of human rights. I also thought he navigated being the first ever president of color with class and dignity. It is never easy to be the first in anything and especially a president of color when looking at the historical harms people of color experienced in the United States. Being the only one of a kind in an office of leadership can be even more lonely than just being a leader. We all know that leadership, in general, can be a lonely place quite often.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Mike Krzyzewski as a leader I admire. First of all, I must say that it was the University of Duke coach who taught me a significant amount about coaching when I was a young coach and very easily influenced. I attended many of his clinics and watch a number of his practices. When I took my first head college coaching job it was the legendary coach who took time to send me a letter of congratulations and a copy of his coaching philosophy. He taught me that no matter how much fame, attention, or recognition you receive, always remember where you came from and treat each person you come into contact with dignity and respect.


  1. What are your thoughts on America’s current status of “Diversity”?

Luke Hartman: The year 2018 is a year of great promise and optimism when thinking about diversity. I say this because we have experienced a government shift that has egregiously and overtly pulled the band-aid off of the racial wounds of our society. Sometimes it is important to go through a tumultuous period of time to awaken the collective conscious of a nation. Many people are having more quality conversations about diversity and inclusion and different local governments in communities across the country are reviewing their policies to ensure that discriminatory practices are eliminated.


  1. Why is diversity and inclusion at the forefront of discussion in today’s culture?

Luke Hartman: According to the 2009 U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one in five people in the United States are first or second generation U.S. residents (United States Census Bureau, 2010). By the year 2050, it is predicted that 51% of school-aged children will come from ethnic/racial “minority” groups (Shudak, 2010). Currently, the United States is the 5th largest Spanish speaking country in the world only trailing Mexico, Spain, Colombia, and Argentina. With this rapid shift in demographics, there seems to be greater anxiety by the majority who tend to obtain the greatest amount of power and privilege. With this racial and ethnic population growth, there are more and more diverse persons in the workforce, in K-12 schools, in higher education, and in government. This increase in diversity means we must have a generative discussion around how to celebrate diversity and maximize the benefits of inclusive settings.

One thing we must guard against is new forms of prejudice and misuse of power. Current research suggests that a new form of prejudice has emerged.  It is suggested that the old, more overt forms of racism have been replaced by what is termed symbolic or modern racism. Symbolic racism is a “blend of anti-Black effect and traditional American moral values embodied in the Protestant Ethic.” Symbolic racism would suggest that Whites who are symbolic racists tend to resist changing White dominance in all areas including economic, social, and political arenas.  It is now illegal, as well as immoral, to discriminate against people on the basis of group membership. Enforced compliance with the Civil Rights Act has led to a dramatic decrease in the overt expression of prejudiced behavior. However, studies have revealed that prejudice and stereotypes can operate without conscious intent. Even some who consciously renounce prejudice has been shown to express implicit or automatic biases that conflict with their nonprejudiced values. The unconscious nature of the prejudice may make certain groups vulnerable targets of these biases. Thinking practically, one could contend that understanding the nature of implicit prejudices is necessary to create effective strategies and interventions aimed at reducing or eliminating their harmful effects.


  1. What can we do to nourish a culture that encourages diversity and inclusion?

Luke Hartman: We have to become more and more culturally competent and intelligent. We do this through reflective practice and greater introspection. We must learn how we are perceived by others. Perception is reality so if we learn how we are perceived by others then we can work at changing our behavior so that others’ perception changes as well. Secondly, we must learn about people’s positive intentions. What are the positive intentions behind the behavior with which you are struggling? This takes a cognitive effort. Think about what that conversation in your head sounds like when you attempt to confront your own bias and seek first to understand others. Next, you have to be willing to change yourself. What behavior are you ready to make in order to meet a person who is “different” halfway. Finally, I believe we have to acquire a greater understanding of culture. We should investigate the difference between individualistic and collectivistic culture and also understand both etic and emic cultural perspectives.


  1. What are your most proud moments throughout your career?

Luke Hartman: I have made so many mistakes in life that it is not even funny! I think what I am most proud of is learning from my mistakes, never giving up, and making changes in order to better my life. The most important accomplishment is being able to be a part of a dynamic and beautiful family. I have been married for near 27 years and have 3 beautiful, fierce, independent and socially conscious minded daughters.

In 1993 becoming the youngest varsity basketball coach in the Commonwealth of Virginia and then going on to be a head college basketball coach at age 26 was such a learning experience.

Having the rare opportunity to open up a brand new middle school, which was the most ethnically diverse middle school in the state per capita, with over 600 students was an amazing experience. Being a first administrator of a school is special because you have an opportunity to contribute to the DNA and culture of a school that will last many many years.

Having an opportunity to lead a university as a vice president of enrollment to historical record enrollment, and record diversity numbers have always resonated with me because of the opportunity provided for many students to change their lives for the better. I must say that pushing up the institutional discount rate to make higher education affordable and to reduce the amount of college debt was a priority while at the same time bringing in enough revenue to stay out of the red.

Finally, having the privilege to work with the mentally ill every single day in a behavioral healthcare hospital, while creating and implementing a responsibility focused behavior program for adolescent young men, has created the most intrinsic rewarding feelings I have ever had in a work environment.


  1. Tell us about your journey as a motivational speaker.

Luke Hartman: I stumbled into motivational speaking when asked to give a 5-minute welcome at a college opening convocation. I was asked to speak about what I was most looking forward to as a new faculty member. Soon after several people who were in the audience called and asked me to come and speak at various gatherings. It was through word of mouth and never through advertising that I had more and more opportunities from high school commencements, to national youth convention (even sharing the same stage at a conference where former president Jimmy Carter spoke). I  was on a speaking circuit touring major American cities for 4 or 5 years and at first, it was very daunting because the organizers would not allow me to take any notes with me onto the stage. It really forced me to have to trust myself and prepare carefully, especially memorizing transition sentences between points I was making so that it all held together. One of the things that I found to be true was that if I was speaking on something I really believed in or felt like really needed to be said, the passion, energy and sheer electricity was authentic, natural and connected with audiences. When talking just to talk about a topic given to me that I had no interest in, then I felt like I was a disaster as a speaker. One word of advice to those who are heading into public speaking is not to believe your own bullshit. It is easy to fall into narcissistic trappings if you are not mindful. You find that people respond with affirmation, attention, and approval and if you are not careful those can lead you to think of yourself more highly than you ought. As you know pride goeth before a fall. In other words the higher up the pole you climb the more ass people can see. Stay Humble! It is not about you but about the importance of the message.


  1. What are your thoughts on working in the behavioral healthcare field today?

Luke Hartman: Finally behavioral health is getting the national attention that has been much needed. It is sad that it takes multiple acts of terror and school shootings to gain the attention of lawmakers, however, this attention and legislation even though overdue is proving to be beneficial. I do continue to have concerns about funding sources playing nice in the same sandbox. For example, localities are working to make judgments of where to place members of their community while at the same time worried about how much the funding is going to burden the local taxpayers. Meanwhile, Medicaid is providing a lot of funding but with funding comes control and the bureaucracy often times gets in the way of appropriate and timely funding for those with mental illness. I worry about the high rates of acuity of clients coming into both acute behavioral hospitals, mental health hospitals, group homes and residential treatment centers. This acuity puts tremendous pressure on direct care staff, especially with many institutions not able to provide the training necessary to best serve the clients. I think direct care staff are doing an excellent job given the lack of resources that they currently have, especially if states are going through significant budget cuts. I love that behavioral health hospitals are participating in numerous accountability and accreditation bodies such as Joint Commission which I think helps with the stereotype of abuse and mistreatment in such institutions. In summary, behavioral healthcare is becoming a centerpiece of healthcare in general and It is an amazing field to explore. There is no greater service than to serve and especially to serve those who struggle with mental illness.


  1. What are some things you did not expect working in mental health?

Luke Hartman: I did not expect the high level of acuity. Mental illness is serious work and there is always a safety risk (even though great efforts are made to reduce risk) due to the unpredictability of the client. On the other hand, I am amazed how relational, smart, and gifted many of the residents are who are relegated to such institutions. In general, institutions aside, I continue to be amazed by how much anxiety, depression, and mood dysregulation there is in our society in general. With these record numbers, it is no wonder that the practice of mindfulness is becoming more and more utilized in our society.


  1. What inspires Luke Hartman?
  • My Wife and daughters
  • Those who strive for excellence.
  • Those who maximize their potential.
  • Those who work tirelessly to make a positive difference.
  • Those who make more from less.
  • Those who demonstrate unconditional positive regard for others.
  • Those who understand that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be a professional anything.
  • Those who work to unlearn racist indoctrination.
  • Rhetorical geniuses.
  • The sheer power of nature.
  • And to bring it full circle……..Symphony Conductors, even if it is metaphoric, working for one sound in society.