We recently had a chance to catch up with superstar Junior League member Hermione Malone to talk about her recent experience as a Marshall Memorial Fellow. Here’s what she had to say….
Why did you decide to apply for the fellowship?
Some of the most amazing leaders I had the privilege to call friends in Cleveland had participated in the fellowship and raved about it. At the time I applied, I was nearing the age cap (that has now been eliminated) and felt I was finally in a professional position that would more easily accommodate being overseas for a month. It is an exciting way to develop a phenomenal global leadership lens and at the time, I was working for an organization with a global footprint—so I felt the experience could also be professionally relevant.
When did your fellowship begin and end?
We began in Washington, D.C. on April 19th and ended in Paris on May 13. I added on a few days to visit Athens and Santorini, Greece. In between D.C. and Paris, I traveled to Brussels, London, Rome, and Budapest.
How did the fellowship strengthen your leadership skills?
In numerous ways. First, by navigating travel with some of this nation’s brightest and best – all leaders in our own right. It created an opportunity to identify when, among a group of leaders, I add value and when it’s better for the group—and myself—to fall back and allow someone else lead. Secondly, the MMF provides enviable access to many of the most engaging leaders in the political and social sectors in Europe. It was a living classroom on leadership and I soaked up lessons on a daily basis—everything from when to take action, to how to foster innovation, how to own your leadership position even when a minority/unpopular voice, how to ally with those in opposition, the importance of being gracious, the value of perseverance and finding the lessons in struggle.
How did your leadership training in the JL help with your success in the program?
I’ve been a member of the Junior League since 2005 in a myriad of roles, including serving a two-year term as president of my former League, JL Cleveland (I transferred earlier in 2017 to JL New Orleans). In that time, I was so fortunate to have been on the receiving end of world class training. The ability to work with diverse populations, the cultivation of a more global view, the courage to be a vocal advocate, knowledge of how critical it is for leaders to listen more than they talk are all skills I honed thanks to my experiences in the Junior League. Plus, I think working in service of hundreds women in a League builds great stamina for traveling Europe for a month with 11 relative strangers! Seriously, that sense of getting along with folks you may not always agree with, supporting each other as energy flags, and having a sense of graciousness throughout the gauntlet of events were invaluable. Our cohort still messages each other weekly if not daily—not just with personal updates, but sharing alternative perspectives on world affairs.
What was the biggest lesson learned from the fellowship?
This is so hard to answer, because this was honestly a masterclass on leadership. I’m going to mention a few of my favorites:
- The ability to lead by influence cannot be underestimated.
- Leaders of complex concepts/organizations that rely on broad-based support need to develop effective methods to translate their messages down.
- Often, staying in ones lane is tremendously advantageous. Know what you do well, execute on that and avoid the temptation to needlessly expand your scope.
- Summon the courage to be decisive, even with imperfect information.
Interested in applying for this incredible opportunity? The GMFUS is currently accepting applications through September 28, 2017. Check it out here.