As this year’s Better Man Conference approaches, I wanted to take some time to share what I consider the foundation of inclusionary leadership:  the six heart-based leadership principles.  At our conference on November 2nd, we will share additional tips and tools on how to master these principles and leverage them in your everyday leadership and interactions.

Emotional Literacy

Emotional literacy requires that we have a conscious relationship with our emotions; this way we can experience them instead of stuffing them somewhere deep inside. The ability to recognize and experience our emotions allows us to respond instead of react to adverse situations.

It is rare that us men get “training” on how to experience our emotions. Whether we are acting as allies or inclusionary leaders, feelings of sadness, shame, fear, and even anger are common. The key is to connect to these emotions and experience them so that we can act more consciously with equilibrium.

Speaking just for myself, I am aware that if I am not paying attention to my feelings of fear, my outward expression will be anger. I have subsequently learned to get curious by asking myself what is true about my anger; what has caused it and why.  Once I can answer this, I find I am in a much better position to respond instead of react.


Vulnerability gets a bad rap and is often believed to be a sign of weakness as opposed to a sign of strength. Yet being vulnerable, especially as a leader, fosters trust and makes it possible for people to follow their leaders. Vulnerability is actually power.

Brené Brown,famous author and researcher says that  vulnerability is our most accurate way to measure courage and vulnerability can be used to assess fearlessness.

At the 2019 Better Man Conference, I asked the women in the room if they would trust me more or less if I admitted that I was afraid, didn’t have the answers, or asked them for support. By a show of hands, they made it abundantly clear that they would trust me more when showing those vulnerabilities.

Being an inclusionary leader is not about infallibility; it is about being human. I have learned that the more I can lean into my vulnerability, the more likely it is that people will welcome my leadership.


Authenticity is all about character – as in yours. Instead of portraying the image of what you think others need to see, you need to be true to yourself. Put another way, be you because everyone else is taken! When it comes to leading authentically, people will notice the difference. People see through the performative leader tactics and in the end don’t trust and won’t follow them.

Being an inclusionary leader requires that you do the work. If you are a leader with lots of privilege, power, and position, all eyes are on you, so you may as well be the person you know best!


Accountability defined is taking full responsibility for one’s words, choices, and actions, and their consequences (intended or not). Inclusionary leadership in action doesn’t blame or shame and it remains open to two-way feedback. Inclusionary leaders must set ground-rules that establish a culture of feedback and accountability. They must also take responsibility for the behaviors and actions of those on their team. Sometimes inclusionary leaders need to call-out behaviors not aligned with allyship and other times they need to call-in. Understanding the difference is key for leaders who want to guide their organizational journey to allyship.


Leaders with heart possess the power to create inclusive culture.  When employees feel like they belong, they will bring their best efforts forward. Inclusionary leaders have the responsibility – and therefore the opportunity – to cultivate truly inclusive environments. What does this look like in action? It could be centering others in situations where you might typically have the floor. It could be inviting new and different voices to attend meetings and to have the opportunity to contribute. When others within your organization notice your efforts they will begin to emulate them so that inclusion becomes an integral part of the culture.


There is true power in seeing, listening to, respecting, and valuing others for who they are and what they contribute. When a leader is able to do this, and create that sense of being seen, heard, valued, and respected, isn’t that love? To me it is and we all could use a little (or alot).

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