Woman in charge of Lockheed’s F-35 program succeeds by being authentic

Miguel Quinones, business professor at SMU's Cox School of Business, talks about authenticity as a key to success for leader of the Lockheed F-35 program.

By Yamil Berard

FORT WORTH — The massive hulk of a F-35 joint strike fighter sits inside a hangar at the west-side factory of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

About a half dozen mechanics and engineers stand by and admire the jet until a demure woman in a pants suit and flats emerges from behind the tail of the plane.

The attention shifts to her. It is all smiles and handshakes, but the body language says she’s the boss: Lorraine Martin, who was appointed in April as general manager of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 joint strike fighter Lightning II program, the costliest defense program in U.S. history.

“I help other people do their excellent work,” she said. “My job is really to clear out obstacles for the engineers, the software designers, the folks building the aircraft.”

Martin, 51, is part of a growing trend of U.S. business leaders who exemplify “authenticity” and are able motivate multi-generational employees of diverse backgrounds, North Texas business school professors say....

She scores well on “authenticity” — the business buzzword of the day that demands that leaders be genuine and sincere, business professors say.

“What you are seeing with her is she’s being authentic, she’s being who she is but still delivering a clear direction and a sense of empowerment to her employees,” said Miguel Quinones, the O. Paul Corley distinguished chair in organizational behavior at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University.

“If she positions herself by talking loudly and forcefully, that wouldn’t be who she was, and it would come across as disingenuous and people wouldn’t respond to it as well,” Quinones said. “When people get in trouble is when they try to be something that they are not.’’

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