Amplify DEI Conference

As part of my talk, I reference the amazing work of Mike Vacanti and Garry Turner. As a thank you for joining us at this conference, Mike has put together some excerpts from his book about ‘belonging’ , my chosen theme and Garry Turner has provided some key links to share with you around self care and heart led leadership.

Mike Vacanti

BELONGING: Thematic Excerpts from BELIEVERSHIP, The Superpower Beyond Leadership

by Mike Vacanti

Great leaders are unique individuals with a myriad of personalities, skills and characteristics. So is each employee. Honoring each person’s unique talent is the powerful differentiator for future success, looking beyond similarities and exploring what happens when you embrace the unique gifts of each individual, unleashing their superpower. Believership is a higher form of leadership, igniting purpose and the power of many moving in the same direction. While leadership forges a path, Believership becomes a paved road for many to travel together.

Believership enables understanding throughout the company or team, and therefore harnesses and magnifies cooperative effort and sense of belonging. It addresses the doubts and challenges, through alignment of vision and mission. Believership brings a good heart, inclusion, diversity and caring to leadership. It lifts others at every level through choice rather than command. Accordingly, Believership is all about bringing the true self to leadership and all employees in order to create value rather than extract value, drawing out the collective effort of the team. It is about authenticity, trust, empowerment and inspiration, about sustainable growth and extraordinary performance, and it has the potential to bring joy to the team.

Belonging and acceptance are fundamental to authenticity (genuineness). If you are not able to be you, your commitment and commitment of others wanes. Learning how to act as you’re told based on flawed leadership models is a limitation in the future. Becoming the prescriptive authority is not the admired state of achievement coveted today. Great Leaders of the future will be fully present and authentic in heart and mind. Believership originates with choice. Genuineness provides clarity for others to make choices.


Organizations have operated by reporting up and informing down the hierarchical structure for generations. Career advancement today is directly tied to compliance and assimilation to authority.

Power and control are the rewards and the tools of current leadership models. The great leaders of the future recognize the devastating failure of this predominate philosophy.

Believership is a value proposition for business. Belief becomes commitment. People commit when they can attach to a purpose, a leader, a vision and culture they want to belong to. People belong through choice, contribution and compassion for others.

Becoming a great company of the future and a great leader in the future requires a new model. Believership is the power source to make this happen. Organizations will flourish as they break patterns from the past and move away from outdated philosophies. Believership is the result of empowering each unique human to embrace innovation, constant growth, empathy and learning.

Believership is the superpower beyond leadership. It lives inside each of us and beckons to be released. It has transformative implications for our lives and those around us. Believership ignites the power within and resists the constraints forced upon us by limiting definitions of leadership, suppressed beliefs, and narrow, historic perspectives. With Believership, we experience the power of possibility for a brighter future of business. It busts the doors open for diversity and inclusion, relies on intuitive abilities to navigate through continuous change, fuels innovation, and lifts others onto the journey with us. It belongs to everyone.

I committed to share this experience of discovering the superpower beyond leadership as an expression of possibilities. To open our hearts and open our minds to new ideas and perspectives. To engage others from around the world, embrace diversity and open deep, engaging and intentional dialog. I invite you to explore the hope I gained through the continuously experienced belief that given the opportunity, people will amaze us.

A single leader-dependent model actually diminishes in value as the employee base and company grow. The Leader cannot spread that thin. The impact and influence become weaker as it trickles down through hierarchy.

Focusing on the power of a single individual creates a limiting environment. The person at the top of an organization is not always the best leader. They may be the best person to handle the responsibilities of that position, that role. But are they equipped to be a leader? Are they the person others will follow? Or, are they reliant on authority and command?

Many leaders demonstrate exceptional management acumen as they wield influence and command performance, but they cannot create Believership. They do not inspire growth in others or foster belonging; open mindedness; expansion; and inclusion. They perpetuate the detrimental patterns that have caused this current state of crisis. Steadfast, they focus on value extraction, rather than value creation, and favor process over people.

I uncovered a disturbing truth. People are taught not to find their beliefs. Instead, they are commanded to believe what they are told. People are told to embrace what is forced on them. Workers are told what experience they are supposed to have and are discouraged from understanding and expressing the experience they are actually having. Open communication is discouraged. Feedback is one-way. People are told how to behave and what to feel and are often told not to feel at all. They are admonished to just do their job and leave all that baggage at the door.

It’s true for the CEO reporting to the board and the executive leadership team supporting them. It was enforced at an ever increasing degree as I worked throughout layers within companies.

Our current hierarchal systems force pressure down and subdue creativity, innovation and growth. Instead, the system could pull the ambition, responsibility and capacity upward, which would foster discovery, expression and development of belief. When the energy flows up and through an organization, people feel empowered. They feel they belong and contribute fully with their heads up and eyes forward.

People will not perform at their highest level and will not seek growth without self-belief. The vast majority of our operational obsession is on measurement. We don’t measure people on their growth and capacity, their alignment and progression to personal development goals. We are firmly stuck in measuring them against each other or a bygone standard of output.

Of greater concern, however, are the down-sides of a bad culture.

If you don’t believe in prioritizing cultural improvement as a value enhancer, be painfully aware of the damage a poor culture can have on your business.

Action starts with you. Then your team, and then throughout the company. Don’t wait for permission. Don’t wait for Leadership. Don’t wait to be told. Act. It’s your experience, your hopes and beliefs. It’s about relationships, passion, connection and belonging. Importantly, it is about growing and sustaining a culture of value creation rather than extraction.

You need to take on more so you can give more back. You must stop contemplating and start achieving. After all, people depend on you, whether it’s acknowledged or not. Be a great teammate.

You don’t need an invite or coronation. It’s not an event, not a frat or sorority party, not a family gathering. Show up as yourself every day. You’ll need to pay some dues, understand timing with patient awareness and always believe you belong. You belong through contributions, through the support of others and through comprehending the whole. You must Turn on the scoreboard, set goals, keep score, and run the clock. This is your life, so play, learn and keep growing.

The greatest choice we have each day is our attitude.

Sacrifice some of your self so you can be filled with the joy and achievement of those around you. Get yourself out of the way. How many of us do that? Did we get up in the morning and spend the proper meditation time? Do we actively choose our mindset? Do we do the mental prep needed to achieve alignment with our beliefs? Are we able to let go?

Be tenacious with personal development. Own it. Otherwise, you will struggle to create the best outcomes for yourself. You cannot inspire belief in others without clear intention and diligent preparation. In this way, you can walk strong in your beliefs and honor the fears and doubts of others. You’re able to stay with them in the problem and consistently stay on point with the mission.

You grow as you help others grow. And this is not a hand-holding exercise. When you meet them where they are, honoring their sense of belonging and contribution, they become willing to move forward with commitment and resolve.

The current state of this long-developing phenomenon has birthed the industry of certification, the ridiculous accreditation addiction that holds role-based hostages and oppresses creativity.

We marvel at the unique gifts of the outliers and the accomplishments of performance disciplines like theatre, music and the arts. Yet we disallow and dismiss these in the business setting. We are adamant to make everyone the same.

What people are hungry for is freedom. This includes freedom of thought, creativity and honor of expression. Imagine a business where sensibility matters, feelings matter and belonging is coveted over fit. Assimilation of thought and action is a restrictive barrier to achievement and growth for individuals and companies. Compliance and ethics are no longer burdensome impediments. We all see the need, and it’s a desired state of operation. This emergence of cumbersome, artificial standardization is prohibiting innovation and evolution.

It is time to unleash potential and embrace vision for possibility.

Current engagement and incentive programs are impersonal and non-inclusive. To empower human ingenuity and organizational innovation, these programs need to acknowledge and honor the unique journeys and perspectives of others, encouraging and rewarding growth rather than compliance and assimilation. Experience and knowledge build our beliefs over time. Constant challenge, learning and maturity are essential.

Belonging is essential to our existence and our wellbeing. So why do we drastically miss this connection through our professional lives? We’ve been brain washed into process assimilation. We’ve been encouraged or forced into sameness, where the individual is merely a cog in the process. We take our cues from technology implementers and lose connections through low-value tech processes.

This affects how we recruit, on-board, measure, track and monitor, survey, etc. Research suggests that we use more technology and open more listening channels. No one is listening, because there is no communication. To enhance engagement and improve the employee experience, we need to use the listening channels attached to our heads.

Together we share the beliefs, actions and evidence that businesses will achieve greater success by:

Engaging people as “whole humans” (not human-capital, resources), providing opportunities to align with life demands, grow, function and progress as human beings; embracing diversity and uniqueness, recognizing people as more than factors of production & productivity, valuing humans as the priority for business success and sustainable growth.

Turning the focus to lifting all through relationships and belonging; creating value rather than extracting value. Promoting love, empathy and continuous learning to make the workplace a more engaged and human experience for every employee while addressing the escalating effects on physical and mental wellbeing.

Creating employee and customer experiences that excite, empower and challenge, and in turn, expand possibilities and profits, propel growth, greater achievement and alignment while benefiting all stakeholders.

© 2019 Mike Vacanti All Rights Reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the author.

Garry Turner

I also wanted to share with you the work that Garry Turner has done – both independently and through “Humans First” – around wellbeing and the amazing key connections of heart-led leaders he has put together for us all to get in touch with to continue this inspiring dialogue:

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