Inclusion Requires Leadership
Developing a culture of inclusion that promotes initiative starts with strong, focused leadership within
the legal department. The onus is on law department
leaders to create a culture of inclusion at the top and
establish formal policies and procedures to infuse such
culture into the DNA of their legal departments.
What is the connection between inclusive leadership
and overcoming bias?
By establishing and implementing robust policies and
procedures that provide all attorneys within a legal
department equal access to the empowerment, information and opportunities needed to exercise initiative,
grow and advance, law department leaders can directly
lessen the impact of barriers and ongoing bias within
their departments. Little room is left for bias to affect
outcomes in which every attorney in an organization is
enabled to take the initiative to further the goals of the
By creating an inclusive environment that promotes
attorney initiative, legal department leaders will in turn
be able to better attract, develop and retain high-qual-
ity, diverse groups of attorneys. They will have the
varied skills and viewpoints necessary for modern legal
departments to advise their organizations successfully
in the face of ever-changing conditions.
One of the first steps to creating an inclusive culture (and one that is not often discussed) is for legal
department leaders to acknowledge that leading and
managing legal professionals is often different from the
challenges faced by most other company leaders. Professionals by definition are people who are responsible
for achieving a result, so prescriptive management is
often inappropriate. Indeed, directing lawyer conduct
is often counter-productive to the development of effective lawyer-client relationships between legal team
members and company managers. More importantly,
the ultimate goal of high client satisfaction usually
occurs when highly skilled lawyers address a legal
problem by giving it their personal priority, energy and
creativity—all of which are about taking initiative.
A key leadership challenge for establishing and
maintaining a culture of inclusion and promoting the
same within a legal department is to foster initiative on
a systematic basis. Legal department leaders must find a
way to ensure that all lawyers consistently take initiative
on behalf of the company when opportunities arise.
Keys to Fostering Lawyer Initiative
Point of View
Do I have a thought that I think
others will value?
Do I know what I need to
know about the situation?
Am I authorized to act or will
it be a “swim lane” violation?
Concerns about any of these stifle initiative
©2014 Huntington Ingalls Industries. All rights reserved.