Four Leaders Who Exemplify Inclusive Leadership

October 13, 2015At Catalyst we often talk about the four behaviors our global research has linked to inclusion: empowerment, accountability, courage, and humility—or, as we like to call them, “EACH,” as in “each and every one of us” has the power to develop these traits!

The best leaders know it takes empowerment to get the best from the people they lead, accountability to get the job done, courage to try something different, and humility to admit that their way of doing something isn’t necessarily the best or only way.

Below are four leaders who exemplify these traits. Do any of them remind you of your favorite boss?

Empowerment: SumAll CEO Dane Atkinson

Talk about empowerment: Atkinson lets his employees elect their own bosses!

“If leaders can’t earn respect and loyalty,” he has said, “they shouldn’t be leading a team…self-electing teams are the antidote to all the spiteful bosses, petty politicking, and bureaucratic inertia that scare away talent and strangle innovation.”

As Atkinson and others have discovered, trusting employees to exercise greater control over their work lives can boost morale and enhance performance.  

Read more about how self-electing teams work—and consider whether and how they might be implemented in your organization. 

Accountability: Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent

Kent holds himself and other senior leaders at Coca-Cola personally responsible for expanding diversity and inclusion. He created and leads his company’s 2013 Catalyst Award-winning Global Women’s Initiative, which enjoys strong senior leadership support across the organization and around the world.

Women make over 70% of consumer purchasing decisions related to Coca-Cola products worldwide. According to Kent, they are “the most dynamic and the fastest-growing economic force in the world today”—which is precisely why he holds top executives responsible for making sure they are adequately represented at Coca-Cola.

Courage: Muriel Siebert (1928-2013), Founder & CEO of Muriel Siebert & Co., Inc.

Muriel Siebert, an influential stock analyst, became the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on December 28, 1967, officially ending sex segregation on the Exchange. Until then, women were permitted on the NYSE trading floor only during World War II and the Korean War—and only then as temporary clerks and pages to fill vacancies while the men were away at war.

It took a great deal of courage for Siebert to buy a seat on the Exchange when she was being paid only 60% of what her male counterparts were earning and had to fight for rights as basic as having access to a toilet at work.

Humility: GM CEO Mary Barra

“I find saying ‘I screwed up’ to be hugely empowering,” Mary Barra, the current head of General Motors, told Catalyst CEO Deborah Gillis at our 2015 Catalyst Awards Conference. “No one does everything right.”

Imagine how much of the 2007-08 financial crisis could have been avoided if more of those in power had admitted to errors rather than doubling down and compounding them! Barra’s humility is a refreshing antidote to the entitlement some CEOs project.

These are leadership behaviors—and individual leaders—worth emulating!

Which leadership styles and individuals do you admire most? Which behaviors do you practice—and which do you wish more of your colleagues would learn to cultivate?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!




The views expressed herein are solely those of the guest blogger and do not necessarily reflect those of Catalyst. Catalyst does not endorse any political candidates. The post and the comments are presented only for the purpose of informing the public.