Federal Coach: Jacqueline Berrien on Leading the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Jacqueline A. Berrien has been the chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) since April 2010. A Harvard Law School graduate, Berrien practiced civil rights law for many years, assisted underrepresented groups as a program officer for the Ford Foundation, and came to the EEOC from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where she served as associate director-counsel.

How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated?

One of my favorite books on leadership is The Mentor Leader , by former football coach Tony Dungy, that takes the position that the best leaders are always thinking about how to develop the best in others and how that is contagious. As you invest in others and their development, they are more likely to invest in others around them and that’s what builds really strong teams.

I also try to make a connection between the origin of this agency and its mission. For me, that is a tremendous motivating force. I recognize the EEOC was born in the civil rights movement. I was also born in the civil rights movement. In many ways, I gauge the work of the agency and its contributions not just in an abstract way, but in a very personal way. I believe my life today is different because an agency like this was created and because the civil rights movement was launched to create it.

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