During today’s conversation, Dr. Steve Yacovelli highlights the role of employee resource groups in shaping company policies, addresses microaggressions, and offers strategies for leaders to combat silent collusion. Emphasizing courage in leadership, Steve also explains how authenticity and empathy can build trust and boost employee engagement. Moreover, Steve shares insights on effective leadership, the significance of belonging, and the dangers of performative allyship, drawing from his book “Your Queer Career.”

Dr. Steve Yacovelli is known as the “Gay Leadership Dude.” He explores creating an inclusive workplace culture during this fascinating episode. Steve is the CEO of TopDog Learning Group, a consulting firm in Orlando, FL, specializing in diversity and inclusion, leadership training, change management, and executive coaching.

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  1. What are the six key focus areas for effective leadership?
  2. How do employee resource groups serve as internal consultants in companies?
  3. Why is it essential to address microaggressions in the workplace?
  4. What does “silent collusion” mean, and why is it significant in the workplace?
  5. How can leaders address microaggressions?
  6. What is the importance of courage in leadership?
  7. What is the impact of performative allyship on workplace culture?
  8. How does a sense of belonging affect employee retention and engagement?

About only 50% of LGBTQ+ people are ‘out’ at work.”

Dr. Steve Yacovelli

CEO, TopDog Learning Group


[03:18] Steve’s Personal Updates and Professional Passions

[05:25] AI and Inclusion

[08:14] Creating Belonging in the Workplace

[10:11] Steve’s Newest Book: Your Queer Career

[13:10] Workplace Values and Continuous Learning

[15:46] Retention Realities

[18:16] Evolving Role of Employee Resource Groups

[23:33]  Signature Segment: Dr. Steve’s entry into the LATTOYG Playbook: Navigating Microaggressions

[28:52] Signature Segment: Steve‘s LATTOYG Tactics of Choices: Leading with Courageous Agility


Steve Yacovelli has over 25 years of experience in leadership development and organizational effectiveness. He has worked with various organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. He is a recognized expert in LGBTQ+ leadership and has been featured in numerous publications and media outlets, including The Huffington Post, The Advocate, and The Wall Street Journal.

In addition to his consulting work, Yacovelli is the author of two books; “Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ+ Leader to be the King or Queen of their Jungle” and “Your Queer Career: Workplace Advice From the Gay Leadership Dude.” He is a frequent keynote speaker and presenter at conferences and events focused on leadership development, diversity, and inclusion.




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Episode 80 | How LGBTQIA Professionals Can Overcome Career Roadblocks with Dr. Steve Yacovelli

Dr. Steve Yakovelli  00:00

At the end of the day, how does an individual employee feel? And that’s the smart strategy, because if I feel that I belong, I feel safe. I feel heard, I feel respected. Guess what level of input I give to the workplace a lot. And studies have shown that again, time and again. So it’s not just it’s better for the bottom line, but you’re getting better performance when people feel that sense of belonging. And that’s the strategy that companies should be facing when it comes to creating diverse and equitable spaces.


Voiceover  00:05

Welcome to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast, where we equip you to more effectively lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. Each week, we help you sharpen your leadership acumen by cracking open the playbooks of dynamic leaders who are doing big things in their professional endeavors. And now, your host, leadership tactics, and organizational development expert, Karan Ferrell-Rhodes.


Karan Rhodes  00:37

Hello, my friends, and welcome back to the podcast and thanks for joining another episode designed to help you better lead at the top of your game. As you know for season three each month we’re featuring leaders who have fascinating roles in a particular profession or industry. And today’s episode is part of our special series featuring leaders who focus on fostering inclusive workplaces. And now enjoy the show. Hey there, superstars This is Karan and welcome back to another episode of the Lead at the Top of Your Game podcast. Now, when you looked at this podcast episode, you might have thought your eyes were deceiving you, but now not so much. We do have that Abba love supporter of the leader, the top of your game podcast and a guest that was on episode 21 of the podcast. So he’s been a longtime friend and supporter, Dr. Steve Yakovelli, who is the CEO of TopDog Learning Group, which is a learning and development change management and inclusion consulting firm. He was absolutely awesome. And we laughed the whole time together while still talking about some great things and giving you all great tips. And he was so great that when we found out that he was publishing a second book, we tried to grab him before he blew up and been too big for us to have for you all to hear. So definitely we want to re welcome to the elite at the top of your game podcast Dr. Steve’s so welcome back.


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  02:11

Thanks you, Karan! I’m so happy to be back and hanging with you again and your peeps. It’s just it’s so fun.


Karan Rhodes  02:11

It is! It was so much fun. And I didn’t want to tell too much about your book because I didn’t want to steal your thunder it. I’m super excited about it being published and the resources that you’re providing directly to folks who have a lot of questions and I’m gonna let you unveil your area of specialty and what you do, because we have a lot of new listeners since the last time you were on. But before we do that, for as much as you feel comfortable, can you give us an update on your you know, personal life and passions these days?


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  02:49

Yeah. Thank you for that. So hello, everyone, welcome. Glad to be back, I should say. Again, Dr. Steve Yakovelli, pronouns he, him, and his. Am the owner principal slash CEO of top dog learning group. We are a leadership change management and diversity inclusion consulting firm, as Karen already said, but I’m also known as the gay leadership dude. And so right there automatically know three things about me that I’m getting that I self identify as a dude. And I really like to talk leadership, which of course is why I’m excited to be here. Since the last time I was on episode 21. Things have been kind of rockin and rollin keeping the Doghouse open, we have multiple members of our pack, as I like to say, who are client partners and TopDogers who are consultants yet, so a whole branding thing my friends really been been working on a lot now that you people are actually going back into the classroom going back into conference spaces. We’ve been doing quite a bit of stuff on the road. And then as Karan alluded to, and I’m sure we’ll talk about later, kind of working on another book. And we’re actually launching our own podcasts, in addition to some other fun product, the things that we’re doing to make the world a bit more inclusive and smarter leaders throughout.


Karan Rhodes  03:55

That is absolutely fantastic. And I can’t wait to, you know, see the unveiling of all the great offerings that you are really doing. And I’m about ready to add you to my podcast playlists as soon as you launch so I can listen while I work out. So I’m super excited about that, as well. So gosh, we could just go a little bit of everywhere. But before we go into the book, let’s start about some of the complex environment and dynamics that are really going on in the inclusion space right now. It’s, you know, as you know, it’s it’s a topic that is extremely necessary and critical for both business and individuals success but you know, it’s kind of painted or tainted, if you will, a little bit with all the geopolitics that are going on. So I just love to hear from your perspective, that kind of the state of di and inclusion these days.


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  04:56

Yeah, thank you for asking that Karen. And it’s funny because just this morning as I was at the gym, listing, no lie this is we didn’t set this up.


Karan Rhodes  05:04

No we didn’t!


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  05:06

I love National Public Radio, this is not an endorsement, I don’t get a kickback. But I absolutely love NPR. And I was listening to the marketplace Morning Report. And if you’re not familiar with that, friends, if you want to be kind of a pulse on the business world, it’s fantastic. And they do like a 30 minute one, at least in my local area, that’s broadcasts of the evening. And in the morning, they do like a 10 minute kind of update. And it just so happened today, while I’m doing my little stair stepping thing they were talking about this new study that was just published today by the corporate diversity initiatives was the national it’s a new national survey that just came out. And they were saying how looked at all these business executives, and they said, how, you know, while of course, you see in the headlines you workplaces are quote, unquote, pulling back their DNI efforts. And this study said, No, actually, that’s not really true. And that reading the statistic right from so if you see my eyes move, I’m looking around saying we’re into the data 75% of executives who describe themselves as politically conservative, said diversity initiatives are essential for their business strategy. And then they combine that with a very recent study of done by McKinsey, where they sat found that 36% are companies that engage in diversity, equity inclusion initiatives are 36% more successful. So business executives, smart business executives, at least, aren’t saying that it’s not the performative thing. Let’s rainbow wash our logo in June for pride and all the other stuff that we can do it. You know, what this bit makes business sense? And quite frankly, that’s what all of us do, folks have been saying for a long time, right? This is yet another study that just came out, which is fantastic. That shows exactly that, that it’s yes, it’s the right thing to do. At least that’s what I personally think. And I think a lot of folks listening will probably agree with that. But it’s the right business thing to do. And that’s where we need as DNI practitioners need to keep focusing the energy there. And I know I do that with our inclusive leadership programs that we give to client partners. That’s always what we lead with is this is better for your bottom line. And yes, it makes the world better too


Karan Rhodes  07:08

Sure does. Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing that research studies and statistics, because, you know, there’s a lot that’s going on, where I found is that employers and I agree employees aren’t, although, you know, it’s always in the news and what have you, but employers aren’t pulling back. They’re just trying to infuse it more smartly into their businesses. So they’re more focused on that, making that business impact, versus trying to be on any political side. You know, right. We’re so different. And that’s what we’re seeing out. And if you’re seeing the same.


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  07:44

Absolutely. I mean, you’re actually seeing some of the DNI efforts are moving away from HR and actually into either strategy, or either legal or both.


Karan Rhodes  07:54



Dr. Steve Yakovelli  07:54

And it’s okay, I’m like, Hey, as long as it’s there, I don’t really care who owns it, you know.


Karan Rhodes  07:58

Yea, but I want it done right, though,


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  08:03

I’m happy to say that as we’ve been in this space, and I personally been in it for almost 30 years, my business has been around our sweet 16 was just a week ago.


Karan Rhodes  08:12

 Woohoo! Congratulations!


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  08:15

16 years, I’ve been doing this as my full time gig. And we’ve always taken the stance of let’s create consciously inclusive leaders. And I know in Episode 21, I described you know, how I got to that point was when I was at Disney and that fun stuff. And other people use that phrasing too. But if we’re being smart about creating diverse and equitable spaces in our workplace, we want to do it from a conscious inclusion perspective. And really, at the end of the day, it’s about creating that sense of belonging for every employee. So it’s not about like, what numbers I have, which you know, and I know, there’s lots of conversations we can have on all the quota things and all that weird stuff that’s going on. But at the end of the day, how does an individual employee feel? And that’s the smart strategy, because if I feel that I belong, I feel safe. I feel heard, I feel respected. Guess what level of input I give to the workplace a lot. And studies have shown that again, time and again. So it’s not just it’s better for the bottom line, but you’re getting better performance when people feel that sense of belonging. And that’s the strategy that companies should be facing when it comes to creating diverse and equitable spaces.


Karan Rhodes  09:20

Oh, I so agree, we could almost drop the mic there. But there’s too much other good stuff that you have this year. But that was eloquently said, so perfect. Well, let’s jump into your new book. First of all, can you share the title? Tell us how it came about? And what’s the difference you’re trying to make in the world with it?


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  09:42

So if you’re watching, this is the cover. We’ve actually had the cover for a little while.


Karan Rhodes  09:46



Dr. Steve Yakovelli  09:47

So the newest book is called Your Queer Career. Workplace Advice From the Gay Leadership Dude, so you already know I wrote it because it’s the game there’s but it kind of came out because of my students. And so when my previous book, Pride Leadership (which also is on the screen) Provide Leadership Strategies for the LGBTQ Plus Leader to be the King, or Queen of the Jungle. That came out, no pun intended. But that came out in 2019. And I wrote it like a textbook. And so one of the things that we did with it was create an online, Queer and Ally leadership training program that uses pride leadership as the textbook. And that was always this strategy. There’s always the idea. And we’ve had hundreds and hundreds of career leaders from around the globe go through it lots of allies to it’s just been really, really exciting. And during that, that eight module program, there’s one on one coaching sessions that they get usually with me or one of my teammates. And people would ask questions, and I kind of started writing them down, you know, of course, you know, respecting the person and not disclosing who they were. But it’d be questions like so you know, Hey, Steve such Galia subdued. I think my boss is homophobic, what should I do? And so I would start to think like, Well, gosh, what would I do in that situation? And so that kind of led to writing a column for a couple magazines and some newspapers. And then I worked with each of those publishers and said, Hey, can I still own this intellectual property? Like, absolutely, just acknowledge, as whatever you do with it? So I started collecting them. And that’s what your career career is about. We’re proud leadership is about the leadership philosophy and strategy to be more effective leader, gay or not, but it’s usually for queer folks. Your queer career is answering those questions in a mindful manner. And as you might have recall, if you were watching or listening to Episode 21, kind of aligned with Karan’s awesome seven, leadership skills, we focus on six, within both pride leadership as well as your career career. It’s your authenticity, courage, empathy, communication, relationships, and culture. And so how we organize your career career is through these exact six, six lenses as well. And so there’s a chapter on the questions that have to do with being authentic in the workplace. There’s a chapter on questions that relate to having empathy, and etc, etc. So your career career, and I’m really excited for it. Because I even talked to my publisher, I’m like, this could just be volume one, she’s like, I think you’re on this. You know, and you we have a production schedule, if you will, probably leadership gets a refresh probably next year, because 2019 It’s been a while the world is very different than studying 2018 is when I bought I wrote it, so and then you know, after that, then it’s probably going to be your career career Volume Two, or whatever that looks like, we’ll just see how that


Karan Rhodes  12:22

Yea, yea! And just stay open to what it can be, you know, you know, that define it now. That’s fantastic. So what were some of your bait insights that came out of your career of where people were either getting stuck? Or what trends Did you see what kind of came out of it?


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  12:41

You know, a couple of things jumped out at me as I was assembling all the pieces and parts to Your Queer Career. One was that there is definitely a lot more folks who feel disjointed from their workplace values, between the stated values on the website or in the break room, and the real lived values within wherever they worked within the business. And so that popped up a bunch of times, which I thought was really interesting and quite challenging, and kind of under makes me understand why only about 50% of LGBTQ blue folks are out at work in the US. So it’s still it’s still hovering around 50%. And you can look at data I was looking met by for this book I was researching because I cite a study in pride leadership, like I wonder if it’s been updated, or if it’s changed. And the latest research still says it’s still hovering around 50% Give or take a few few numbers. So why is that if you know, and a lot of it is the workplace values versus the real values versus what’s stated or kind of expected. So that was one big jumping out point. And the other two is how I say this. And I know we talked about this in Episode 21. I mean, I’m in my 50s and I you forget as you progress through your profession, and your you know, your journey and your workplace or whatever, you forget what you know. And so when I would hear these questions, I’m like, why don’t you know that? And it’s not just it wasn’t me being arrogant, but it’s one of those things like, oh my gosh, I forgot I learned that lesson. Let me share it with you. And that’s kind of one of the things that I really liked about this was even regardless of how you link the time someone spent in their career, there was always something that they’re like, oh, you know, I did learn that many, many, many years ago. I forgot, like, perfect. And now here’s a reminder or someone who’s shiny new out of the wrappers, like I just entered the workforce. Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing that brand new wisdom with me. I don’t know that. And so kind of thinking about how people are approaching their career a bit differently. was also the big thing that jumped out at me for this.


Karan Rhodes  14:44

You know, I’m still going back to my mind is spinning around that figure. What is it only about 50% of people are out at work that really hit me and I’m wondering is there a tie to that and length of retention for career Your professionals, if they don’t find a work environment where they are comfortable and being their whole selves, are they looking for greener pastures elsewhere, which full into the whole talent challenge that employers are?


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  15:17

Absolutely, I mean, you see this, and even now, sorry to inturrupt. But even now, like COVID is like this big giant equalizer to some folks, and obviously, not every job.


Karan Rhodes  15:28



Dr. Steve Yakovelli  15:28

But so many folks, you know, COVID happen, where did the work environment go, of course, it went online, as best as it could, I’ve obviously not. Now, the dust has settled and COVID is, quote, unquote, over or whatever that means. But now you have folks who are able to work remotely, and so I’m not tied to whatever company is in my backyard. And so that retention of talent, or potential retention of a talent is now it’s amped up exponentially for any workplace. Because if I want to keep my best talent, I have to engage them, I have to create that sense of belonging and we talked about before. And if I’m a queer person, and I don’t feel that sense of belonging, it’s so much easier for me to pick up my toys and go elsewhere, virtually or physically or both. And I think smart workplaces know that and are starting to think, Wait a minute, what are we doing or not doing to keep folks where we want them to be and engage them keep that sense of belonging and empower them to remain here versus alienate them? Because we’re doing performative ally ship, if you’re not familiar with that term, that’s where folks pretend to be allies. And then they really aren’t. It’s the rainbow Washington June and then July walks around and like, here’s money to that anti queer, political candidate, you know, in kind of things like that, truly, always have to. So it’s not doing that. And people are too savvy. Now people know, when that performative ally ship is part of the workplace. I know the last episode, we talked about it quite a bit. And even since then, you’ve have some of these great brands who claim to be awesome super allies, and then they had a lot of missteps over the past year or so.


Karan Rhodes  17:02

Gosh, it littered our news in culture media, right, this past year, or a couple years, actually.


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  17:09

It’s really interesting. But I think if we’re trying to retain the best talent, whether it be your workers of color, or female colleagues, or insert any of the other disenfranchised folks here, if we’re being smart about it as leaders, we want to create that sense of belonging and how do we do that we’re being consciously inclusive in the mix.


Karan Rhodes  17:27

Oh, absolutely. And, Steve, I’m really curious, how do you see the role of employee resource groups? For those who aren’t familiar with the term? How do you see the role of these evolving over this, this these past couple of years? And where do you see them going? Are they still valuable? Are they not at what’s your thoughts on this?


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  17:48

So just for the listeners and the watchers, we didn’t plan this. But that’s literally one of the questions that’s in Your Queer Career. Yeah. Because it’s, it’s a very, very valid question. Do orgies or affinity groups, or BRGs, or insert whatever you want to call it? If you’re not familiar with those terms. It’s a group of like demographic employees at a business. So it could be the queer folks. It could be the veterans, it could be the parents, women, women, yeah, what color it can be. Insert any others here. And so what I’m seeing is a couple things. And it’s really it’s starting to differentiate smart businesses are using their employee resource groups as basically internal consultants if they’re smart. So I’ll just take the the queer folks, or the LGBT ERG is you know, in some companies, they’re like, Yay, you put on the Pride Parade events and get our logo out there. We’re, yeah, that’s nice. And that gives brand awareness and shows inclusivity, to some extent, but smarter business are saying, Hey, there’s this legislation out there. How’s it impacting you and your world? And what should we do? Should we write an amicus brief, which, if you’re not familiar, is like, you know, where a company says, Dear Supreme Court, or whomever? This is what we think on this site, and also ERGs are now doing that and pushing their employers to say, hey, you know, this is happening. What are you doing? And I can say this, and I’m not affiliated anymore with the Walt Disney Company, I am a former Disney cast member, I sit in Central Florida. You saw this happen and employee resource groups, both in Florida and California, pushed the company and said, Wait a minute, what’s going on here? What are you doing? You’re supposed to be inclusive. This is not what’s going to happen. And smart businesses are like, wow, you’re right. Disney said, wow, you’re right. I mean, to the to the point where they had very senior executive employees there after some of these days, and so that’s, that’s a company that’s that’s trying to do it right, and walk the walk and talk the talk. And so I think employee resource groups can be that catalyst for change internally, but a business should be using them as internal experts in subjects subject matter experts and resources instead of just the party planners and yeah, it’s blank month and let’s celebrate stuff.


Karan Rhodes  19:58

Yea, Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m curious, how did you say you got some of the questions that you were answering in your book? How did you gather those again?


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  20:07

So some of them, you know, we just put a website out and all of our social media posts and all that somebody’s like, Hey, you got a question for the gay leadership, dude, here you go. And so we got a couple of that way, actually. But a lot of them were through their our coaching clients, or people who are in the LGBT leadership program that we do. It’s called the lions program. See, it’s like pride, leadership, Lions, get it?


Karan Rhodes  20:28

Look at you!


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  20:29

But lion is an acronym. And it stands actually, I can show you, I think, oh, and it’s it stands for leaders immersive opportunity to nurture strengths. So lions and lions.


Karan Rhodes  20:41

Love it.


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  20:42

And so the idea is that, you know, people come into this program, they’re already leaders. I mean, if you’re listening, y’all all y’all are leaders. That’s kind of what we say, here in the south. Because you’re having influence, that’s leadership is all.


Karan Rhodes  20:52

That’s right.


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  20:54

And you’re listening to this podcast, hello, you clearly identify.


Karan Rhodes  20:57



Dr. Steve Yakovelli  20:59

But what we do is we take that experience, and then we channel it to be even more effective. And that’s kind of where the Lyons program. And that’s where a lot of the questions did come out with people ask it either in the one on one coaching sessions, or in our virtual classroom sessions, where there’s a whole bunch of folks from around the world. And I would just got smart. Finally, it was like, Oh, let me write that down. That’s a good one, or I hear it three times. I’m like, Oh, that’s a trend. Write it down. Let’s like answer that one and see what happens.


Karan Rhodes  21:23

Awesome. The reason I asked you that is because I know there are a lot of folks that you know, may not have are just are coming familiar with you now that I’m sure have questions as well. And I know that part of your some of your future plans are to provide avenues where people can ask those questions. And you can work through that through the podcast or included in the next book or something to try to get answers out to the public. So if people have additional questions that they would love to send to you to consider for an upcoming episode, podcast episode, or in your next book, how can they give this or to you or send something.


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  22:02

We have our actually website already set up. So we’ll put that in the show notes. And it’s really where all things your career career will be? How’s the we’re doing right now we’re doing the pre launch, and also things and we’re also doing our podcast when it comes on, as we mentioned, which is also gonna be called your career career, the podcast, there’s a newsletter that we have that goes out, we’re moving it from weekly to bi weekly, just now on LinkedIn, you can subscribe to and so all of those are kind of the ways that we’re trying to infiltrate in a good way into the atmosphere.


Karan Rhodes  22:33

Yeah. I love that. I love that. What advice do you have for your clients who still are facing like microaggressions in the workplace, or they notice microaggressions in the workplace and want to be a better ally? What do you share in your advice area in your book about that, because those are still going on? I keep hearing them still, from, you know, a lot of people in the workforce, or just right now,


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  23:03

Karan and I talked about this before we got on the air and I’m like, I don’t want to repeat myself from the other episode… I’m going to own it and repeat it. So if you heard this already, you’re gonna we’re gonna talk about mopsand real quick, in Episode 21. That was one of the questions and I gave a very real story. And as you might remember, Karan happened in your backyard in the Atlanta area, where I was, in this client site, we were about to do this big meeting, it was like a rah rah, we were the end of the change management thing. And the senior executive at the head of the table, and he and his gender is important story. Just as we’re about to start the meeting, and you hear him say, “Well, you know how all women drive?” And you remember that you had the beautiful shocked look, if you’re watching the video from from that one. And so at that moment, no one said a word. And we all engaged in silent collusion. So here’s a microaggression. That just happened against women. And at the moment when we didn’t none of us said anything to refute the statement. We were engaging in silent collusion, we were silently agreeing or supporting that, that in this case, quite frankly, stupid statement that was said. So we developed in it’s also Pride Leadership, but it’s also in Your Queer career. The idea of mob Sam and mob Sam is just six ways that you can remember what to do in the moment to refute silent collusion, and really start to address some of those micro aggressions as they are alive and in the moment and I won’t go through all six again in the show notes we’ll put like a we have a free training we give folks for this one it’s it’s pretty simple. It’s not crazy, but each of the mob Sam mrpsam and I use this cheeky little thing where the you know, it’s Sam the dog and Sam is Hungarian pull him up. He’s so Sam’s name and his breed mops and that’s where this all comes from. So if you’re seeing the video, you’re like, what’s the deal with Sam and he’s a mob dog. So anyway, it’s a way to remember it’s, it’s, it’s silly, but humans need some pneumatic way to memory. So that’s where mobsam comes in. And so basically, it’s six strategies that in that moment you can do as a leader, to kind of refute those micro aggressions, those micro inequities that are being said, so it’s “me outpoint say aske move.” And I’m, like I said, I encourage you to go to the free training. But I will jump into two of them that I find to be the most valuable. And I’m going to jump around here. The first one is, or the first one I’m going to do is actually the A and mop Sam kind of toward the end. And it’s you ask you, you actually ask the person what they meant. And so in this case, Bob will pretend Bob was the executive, I might say, Bob, what did you mean by that statement that you know, all women drive? Now you have to be very mindful of how you ask the question, because it’s not like Bob, what did you mean by that statement there? Bob’s your tone and intonation rate of speech is communicating something beyond the words. So your neutral tone, Bob, what did you mean by that statement, and then you let and then you sit and think, and you let Bob kind of stew or share. Because typically what’s happening when someone engages in microaggressions, they’re coming from that unconscious behavior, behind conscious bias that’s out there. And so when you ask the question, it pushes people right into the consciousness, like, like to stop and think of what I said, Oh, and just like in this exact situation, Bob backpedaled, muted blah, blah, well, that’s fine. So two things happen there. I addressed it with Bob. But I sent a message to every other person in that room that I’m not on board with Bob. Sorry, what did you hear that statement? So that’s kind of the A in Mount Sam and my, the other one that I love is the s in SAM, mob, Sam, is you say a non word that at least indicates your not on board and it could be like, What? Whoa, damn. So if I say something like that, You know how women drive? Whoa, what message did I just send in that might not


Karan Rhodes  23:08

Nope. Repeat it.


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  23:12

Yeah.  Bad part, though, is I’m not addressing it immediately with Bob. And so all of the six strategies have pros and cons, which is why I encourage you to kind of go through the little bit of training there. But if we as smart leaders, don’t let these microaggressions sit and fester, where we at least address them in the Whoa, game, say a non word or more importantly, Hey, what did you mean by that statement, and then be quiet, we could really go bar and beating that side of collusion in the workplace.


Karan Rhodes  27:06

Absolutely, definitely go in, check the show notes to get the free training, because he goes really in depth on all six, and he makes it real, it’s very easy for you to use, and it’s a great, great hack to have in your hip pocket. So when you’re facing that, you can tactfully address it and be supportive to others in around the room without bringing a ton of negativity. It’s just a bit of awareness and being in the moment, for them to course correct. And for those who who are new to that, Steve here, you know, in our first episode, you know, we always usually ask about our tactics, but he did select leading with courageous agility, if I remember correctly. That really resonated with him. So I wanted to bring that back up. And as you all know, leading with courageous agility is all about having the courage and fortitude to stand up for what you think is right and take baby steps forward, even at the features is unclear, uncertain. And such if you want to just remind us the why that really is kind of evident based on the work and your passion and what to do. But I’d love for you to give voice to this, again, of what kind of pot for you for our new listeners have who have not met you yet.


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  28:22

Yeah, and I love how Karan, your areas of focus kind of so align with mine, I love. When we talked about that last time, I think it’s so awesome. And that kind of speaks to what really is important in the workplace to be a more effective leader. You know, when you parse it was six or seven. It’s the same concept. For me, it’s authenticity, courage, empathy, communication, relationships, and culture. And all of them to me are make or break a really effective leader. But I always go to the courage one, because I think, in this day and age and in the workplace that is now whether your hybrid in person, virtual, you know, being courageous makes a difference. And whether it’s you refuting those statements that we just talked about with inclusion and having the courage to kind of put yourself out there, or if you’re you kind of silently in the background, doing your work, but making decisions that maybe are harder or asking the right questions that might take you in a different direction than maybe you expected and, and especially when you talk about trying to be more innovative, trying to ask well, why are we doing it this way? That takes courageous behavior. It’s not just your courage in the workplace is not like the superhero, you know, Wonder Woman kind of thing. It’s being yourself. It’s asking those questions. It’s it’s having those those tough conversations. And all of that makes a difference in to not only your leadership effectiveness, but how much you you cater and foster trust with those around you, which as we all know, is really the key to effective leadership.


Karan Rhodes  29:51

It absolutely is absolutely. So thank you again for sharing that with us. Now. By the time this episode comes out, I believe your book will be launched and published. So we’ll have a cross their fingers, we’ll have links to everything that will reach back out and make sure we have all the links updated for the show notes by the time the launch happens, but definitely make sure listeners that you check out the show notes to get the link to Steve’s former book, Pride and, right Pride Leadership, there we go. And his new book, Your Queer Career, as well as links to the podcasts and all the resources that he is going to be able to provide. So before we let you guess, do you have any last thoughts, anything you’d love to share?


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  30:39

I loved how the last time we had a chat, Karan that I was able to turn the tables on you and I’m gonna do it again if you’ll let me.


Karan Rhodes  30:46



Dr. Steve Yakovelli  30:46

So I mean, it’s been almost almost a year to the recording just about. And I want to ask what’s one thing that you’re so happy has changed for you, in the last year?


Karan Rhodes  30:57

Ah! On a personal professional level,


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  30:59

you interpret how you will,


Karan Rhodes  31:03

I’ll share on a personal level, you know, I even though I, you know, live and breathe leadership every day, day in day out, I’m not perfect. And so one of the things that I’m proud of is that I’ve consciously tried to help empower my team. And to let go, because I’m a perfectionist, something’s to let, let go and let them shine. And just provide, you know, feedback where needed instead of trying to micromanage as well, so. So that’s an area of growth for me, but it was conscious. And by doing that, you know, we’ve really been able to accelerate our firm in the work we do in the client today, it all connects to what’s meaningful for the company, the team them as individuals, and then me as as leading the organization. So that’s something very small, but something I’m very proud of, because it took a lot. It only took over 40 years, but it took a lot.


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  32:12

No, and I love that you thank you, again, unscripted friends, but I love that you shared that because in both Pride Leadership and Your Queer Career when I talk about courage and courageousness that is absolutely one of the examples is delegation. Because at its foundation, if I’m delegating a task to somebody, that’s because I trusted them. And so kudos to you. Well done!


Karan Rhodes  32:32

Well, thank you. All right, well, thank you so much against, Steve, for your time, your updates, you know, we’re gonna have to do this again, I gotta make the annual date or something, you know, because check in. But thank you seriously, for what you’re providing to the community and in answering questions that are top of mind for a lot of individuals that are out there that they’re struggling with. And you provide that psychological safety for them to ask questions, to help create a plan to help better themselves. So thank you for the work you do.


Dr. Steve Yakovelli  33:08

Yes, thank you.


Karan Rhodes  33:09

Alright! And thank you to listeners for joining another episode of Lead at the top of your game. As you know, I always ask for you to subscribe if you haven’t already. And please share the podcast with just one friend. Because by doing so you will empower them to to also lead at the top of their game. Thanks again for listening and see you next week. Bye bye. And that’s our show for today. Thank you for listening to the lead at the top of your game podcast, where we help you lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. You can check out the show notes, additional episodes, and bonus resources, and also submit guest recommendations on our website at You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by searching for the name Karan Rhodes with Karan being spelled K a r a n. And if you like the show, the greatest gift you can give would be to subscribe and leave a rating on your podcast platform of choice. This podcast has been a production of Shockingly Different Leadership, a global consultancy which helps organizations execute their people, talent development, and organizational effectiveness initiatives on an on-demand, project, or contract basis. Huge thanks to our production and editing team for a job well done. Goodbye for now.

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