What distinguishes a courageous leader? First and foremost, it’s that they are all in!

Courageous leaders are willing to engage their head and heart in the workplace, a risky notion in many organizations. They are not afraid to follow their hearts and walk a road less traveled. They lead with vision and passion. Courageous leaders are identified and measured by their tangible efforts to forge transformative shifts in the way diversity and inclusion is practiced in their organizations. And when their commitment, vision and passion intersect –colleagues, partners, work groups, management, and organizations follow.

At WMFDP we’ve come face-to-face with thousands of courageous leaders around the globe over the last 20 years, none more deserving of the accolade “courageous leader” than this year’s selection for Courageous Leader Awards which celebrate business leaders who demonstrate excellence in building inclusive workplace cultures and forge transformative shifts in the way diversity and inclusion is practiced in their organization.

Strong, visionary leaders are vital in all endeavors. Arguably, even more vital are courageous leaders who daily demonstrate excellence in building inclusive workplace cultures, resulting in transformative shifts in their business and their personal lives, and in their partnership with others.

Two extraordinary leaders | La June Montgomery Tabron and Dennis Little

LA JUNE MONTGOMERY TABRON, President and CEO, WK Kellogg Foundation

Seven years ago WKKF commited to an ongoing diversity program for all of their staff. La June was among the first to embrace, if not drive, the effort, repeatedly leading by example, charting a new course and bringing others along with her. La June has always lead with a willingness to express herself and as a result, be vulnerable.

DENNIS LITTLE, Vice President Strategic Planning

By all accounts, Dennis inspires and touches people because, first and foremost, he is transparent in his passion for driving inclusion at Lockheed Martin. He inspires others with his genuineness, and humbleness. He uses his voice at key moments to deepen Lockheed Martin’s knowledge and commitment to inclusion.

Dennis and La June embody leaders who are not afraid to demonstrate their vulnerability publicly. Courageous leaders do not just show up with talking points and merely state a message. Courageous leaders are about more than giving lip service to inclusion efforts. They are right in the mix with their colleagues, learning and practicing what it takes to listen deeply to understand, rather than deduce. La June and Dennis are tireless in this respect.

Many companies come to us eager to find the quick solution, the magic pill to solve their diversity challenges. Dennis and La June succeed because they get that they and their organizations are on a diversity journey, and that it is how the journey (not the destination) is navigated that makes all the difference. They recognize that the process of inclusion is a methodical, rigorous journey that involves small steps of engagement, as opposed to grandiose one time gestures. They have the inner will and strength to see their work as a journey, and take a long view rather than waiting to see change happen now.

We at WMFDP are moved by their relentless and long term commitment to change because we believe true organizational change happens because individual leaders themselves change.

We are honored to be in full partnership with La June Montgomery Tabron and Dennis Little, and their colleagues at the WK Kellogg Foundation and Lockheed Martin.