Why I’m Still Learning to Be an Inclusive Leader (Blog Post)
Catalyst CEO Lorraine Hariton on what she learned about becoming an inclusive leader from Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson.
When I first read Catalyst’s new study on inclusive leadership, I immediately thought of one of the most inclusive leaders I’ve seen close up recently: Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, President, and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation.
When Marillyn became the Chair of the Catalyst Board of Directors in September, I wasn’t sure what to expect. She has a demanding job in a complex industry—what kind of manager would she be to me? Would she be accessible? Interested in questions, feedback, or new ideas?
Almost immediately, any fears I had were dispelled. As a leader and a manager, Marillyn is not just smart and inquisitive, but she’s also self-reflective. She’s not afraid to circle back to me after a situation and admit that she might have done things differently—and that she’s learned from the experience. She reflects on her own accountability in these matters and then steps up to make things happen.
Catalyst’s report, Getting Real About Inclusive Leadership: Why Change Starts With You, is based on surveys of some 2,100 employees in large companies. It lays out very clearly the importance of leading outward and inward to create an inclusive workplace.
Leading outward—showing accountability, ownership, and allyship—is what most people typically think of when they think about leadership. It is all about supporting team members to do their best work and be their best selves.
Leading inward is less visible, but equally important; it involves self-reflection, and a willingness to learn, grow, and live our principles. The behaviors associated with leading inward—curiosity, humility, and courage—spring from our inner strength and self-knowledge.
Working with Marillyn to grow Catalyst, I see her balancing these two complementary and essential aspects of leadership. For example, she is already making sure that responsibilities are clear by revising bylaws and committee charters that were vague and then clearly delegating to committee chairs and holding them accountable. She has also shown her curiosity and humility to me by asking questions, reflecting on her own learning, and having the courage to adapt based on those learnings. She shows me that it’s okay to not have all the answers and to take calculated risks that might be out of my comfort zone.
This is the kind of leader I try to be at Catalyst, too.
Since I’ve started last year, we’ve launched several bold new initiatives, including a $25 million major gifts campaign and refresh of Catalyst’s strategic plan. We’ve done a lot of work internally too, related to infrastructure, hiring, and accountability. I know that if I don’t manage these changes by leading outward and leading inward, we won’t reach our highest levels of success.
As a person who’s always been very action-oriented, I am using the report to set my own goals and actions for becoming a more inclusive leader—the same way I’ve set other professional goals and achieved them with intentional and strategic steps throughout my career.
Inclusive leadership is never “done”—we’re always getting better at it and finding new ways to lead outward and lead inward. After all, practice makes progress.
President & CEO
Lorraine Hariton is President and CEO of Catalyst, a global nonprofit working with the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to help build workplaces that work for women. Catalyst’s vision and mission to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion has been a lifelong passion for Lorraine. She is…