This past Thursday, I hosted the first of a long list of online workshops. The title of the workshop was Connecting Through the Disconnect. This workshop was not about the usual tips about keeping your productivity and workflow up through a global economic and health crisis. It was about people-centered leadership.
I focused this workshop on the secret to forming authentic connections. This is why I emphasized conscientious, people-centered leadership. The kind of leadership mindset and behaviors that start with your personal wellbeing as your foundation to thrive. This is the way to form authentic connections through this social isolation and beyond. This is the only way you can address the lack of engagement, and attrition issues that many companies have dealt with for several years. This is also an incredible opportunity to bring back an ancient principle of leadership – compassion. That would make sure that we are never again put in the position we are in right now. And, the only way to achieve this is by starting on your inside.

This is something I’ve talked about in several previous articles in my blog (you will find a list at the end of this post). This is the framework that is going to move you forward into the 21st century as a leader, through this global pandemic and beyond. Because, when our world stabilizes again (and, it will), nothing will be the same. Life for humans has changed forever because of what this invisible little pathogen has made visible. But, you don’t have to be afraid or uncertain of the future. By becoming a conscientious, people-centered leader, you can guide our collective future. Towards real inclusion and belongingness, where everyone can thrive BECAUSE of who we are, not in spite of it.

I realized that the workshop was going to be somewhat of an information overload. New frameworks and ways of thinking AND doing, generally are. But, I also wanted to make sure that you stepped away from it with a much deeper understanding that there is a clear path ahead. All you need to do is see it, and walk it. So everyone who attended got a brief explanation of the LEGupward framework and of the need for you to connect inward first, especially now, so that you can connect better with others. Considering that this was the first online group workshop I hosted, I definitely learned a lot from it. I even wrote about what I learned. That will get posted soon.


In this post, I want to summarize the six tips that I put forth to start thinking about transforming into conscientious, people-centered leaders. During the workshop, I didn’t frame these six points as tips. They were exercises. But, what are exercises if not tools to get us to practice certain things, right? So, without further ado, here are the six points I mentioned in the workshop to help you build deep (even deeper than before) connections with yourself and your teams:


1.) To practice people-centered leadership, you must focus on creating spaces of belongingness and mental wellbeing.

The first step to this starts with looking inward and figuring out how you are and where you have positioned yourself. Where are you including yourself and where are you excluding? It is only then that you can consider what it means and takes to include anyone else.

2.) Develop a sustainable growth mindset and outlook to embody people-centered leadership.

Your mindset determines the outlook you have on life. Whether you think you can do something, or whether you think you can’t, you are right. Building thought and action practices that allow you to spend most of your time in a forward-thinking, growth mindset is the only way you are going to learn and develop yourself. It is the only way to transform into a people-centered leader.

3.) Unlearn the things that aren’t serving you well.

Every single of us have an untold number of biases that affect our thoughts and actions, toward ourselves and others. This social isolation is bringing many of these filters to surface. You have to unlearn these conditioned responses so that you can make space to learn the things that do serve you  well to be a people-centered leader.

4.) People-centered leadership embraces intersectional realities.

All of us have intersectional lives that dictate the reality of our lived experiences. No two of us can have identical experiences and feelings about everything all the time, not even identical twins. These intersectionalities are what make us completely unique. Yet, 61% of us hide these essential parts of us from our coworkers, teams and leaders in our workspaces because of safety and stigma issues. If you are hiding, how do you even begin to form authentic connections?  People-centered leadership understands the reality of this. By embracing intersectionalities, and by understanding that your visibility and others’ visibilities are complex and nuanced, you can create that safe space as a leader. You can form authentic connections and establish trust.

5.) Align and converge your values as a leader.

Don’t conform to follow the script. Write your own script and encourage those around you to write their own. Every script is based on personal core values. How many people think about what values they want to embody as people-centered leaders? Now is the perfect time to take some time to explore this aspect so that you can start embodying these values, instead of blindly following what someone else says you should or ought to be doing.

6.) Help your leaders and decision-makers understand that ROI has to include employee wellness.

The bigger picture has to account for an organizational culture that is formed with convergence and not conformity. Empowering each individual employee to thrive has to come first. The benefits of this go far beyond but also include profit margin bottom lines. And, this would be less expensive to put in place than sporadic system-wide trainings that don’t sustain, and that most employees only attend begrudgingly.

The tips and information that we went over in the workshop and this blog post are things that you need to explore individually first, before you can think about team cohesion and connectivity. Going through these exercises would take some time and some candid introspection and transparency on everybody’s part. But it is only by doing so that you can resolve the very leadership issues that put us where we are right now – in isolation and uncertainty.
At AJ Rao, LLC, I help ambitious professionals become more visible as they transform into influential, conscientious, people-centered leaders. I also consult and partner with organizations and senior decision-makers to create customized, comprehensive solutions for inclusion. I help companies create their own unique culture where all their talent can thrive, so that they can reap the economic benefits of inclusion. Click here to schedule a complimentary clarity call to discuss your needs.