by Alexis Rask, Tenshey Coach


Many successful business leaders and entrepreneurs are investing deeply in becoming more authentic, empathetic and inclusive leaders to deliver business results through motivated and energized teams.

In the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, it’s impossible for CEOs not to pay attention to how their company cultures are set up to empower and enable their whole workforce. Chief Diversity Officers are being hired and the Diversity and Inclusion function has never seen more of the spotlight. But it has to start from the top. From the CEO herself/himself.


Communicate Authentically

Many of us have created our work personas in such a way that we automatically filter and even armor against showing emotion and dynamic emotional range. Every person has a powerful set of stories, motivations, aspirations and dreams. The best CEOs and leaders use theirs to unlock the hearts and passions of their workforce while making clear what they want to see happen.

The faster top executives can get comfortable sharing WHY they want the team to tackle a problem and use their emotion to really enroll them to a vision and mission, the faster the business will arrive there. As Brenae Brown has famously covered in her TED talk and Books, “the core of authenticity is the courage to be imperfect, vulnerable, and to set boundaries.”


Bring in Diverse Perspectives

The only way to determine a sound business strategy is to first explore all angles. This means having healthy debate, allowing for dissenting opinion, and making sure the room of people in discussion are representative of a variety of different perspectives. Our confirmation bias causes many of us to hire candidates that have the same background, look the same physically or on paper, or are otherwise “cut from the same cloth” as us.

As Alexis McGill Johson of the Perception Institute writes, “implicit bias is our brains’ automatic processing of negative stereotypes that have become embedded in our brains over time about particular groups of people oftentimes without our conscious awareness.”

The best leaders know they need much more dynamic range of views, perspectives, and personal backgrounds in order to see the full picture and get the best outcomes, and they invest in learning how to work around the unseen and implicit biases they carry.


Listen and Debate

Hiring great talent only makes sense if you hear from them and get their best thinking out. Listening actively is a skill that even the most gifted orators overlook. True listening is sitting quietly in full focus to understand other perspectives. A mind that wanders to what it will say next is inherently not hearing the speaker, and the speaker can sense it.

Regardless of title or team, anyone you hire should be someone you know has valuable ideas and opinions. Your job is to help those see the light of day.


Impact the Bottom Line

Too often we see topics related to communication and culture as “fluffy” and therefore not integral to driving business outcomes.  It has been studied and proven time and again that there is direct correlation, and even causation between these topics and hard business results.

In Gallup’s annual Engagement Report it found that ““Highly engaged business units achieve a 10% increase in customer metrics and a 20% increase in sales.” and that “Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.”


Bottom Line

It’s easy to ignore these things, and nearly as easy to pay lip service to them. “I’m too busy running the company to spend time thinking about culture or improving my communication style. We’ve done this well so far.”  But the most successful leaders know this is the only way to hire, retain, and maximize the output of the best talent in their industry. Which is at least half the battle.


If you are interested in learning more, check out our new workshop for Startup CEOs: Cultivating Empathetic Leadership & Inclusive Cultures