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    Brad Deutser: The Five Rules of Belonging (Ep #220)

    Brad Deutser is a leading expert in belonging, DEI, and leadership complexity. Author of the bestsellers “Leading Clarity” and “Belonging Rules,” he guides leaders through his innovative consultancy, Deutser, which champions a human-centric approach to change. Brad thrives in challenging, uncomfortable, and politically sensitive environments, actively seeking to address and transform them. For decades, his work has focused on fostering spaces for belonging and enhancing leadership through more human and connective practices.



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    Show Notes

    • “It’s hard to believe I’m an expert in belonging when so long in my career…I didn’t belong.” [07:55] Guest Brad Deutser shares his diverse background that led to his company, Deutser Consulting Firm, all about human approach to change!
    • “What the research found is that belonging is actually above strategy AND culture.” [21:56] As Brad explains the levels of research that went into his book, Belonging Rules: Five Crucial Actions That Build Unity and Foster Performance, he shares this idea that belonging at work is a crucial purpose in society as a whole. He even found that people were able to work for LESS if they had more belonging at work!
    • “In our organization, in our families, in our communities… it doesn’t matter where; there are power structures that impede our progress and our ability to win.” [25:45]  Rule #1: Turn into the power. Brad dives into the first rule in his book explaining power structures and compliance that comes along with things like affirmative action, title 9, and DEI. How do we turn into the power? Pause. It’s not charging through but instead stopping, thinking, and asking questions.
    • “When we listen with labels, we diminish people… we diminish their thinking, their ideas.” [33:30] Brad’s Rule #2: Listen Without Labels serves as a message that, yes, labels can be true, but they often don’t tell the complete story. Removing labels from listening allows you to see the big picture without bias and engage differently. 
    • “Purpose alone doesn’t give the differentiation enough to where someone says, ‘I’m going to opt in to THAT’.” [38:57] Organizational identity is made up of purpose (why it exists), the values, and the behaviors expected, which comes back to Rule #3: Identity over Purpose. It’s about creating a space of shared importance. 
    • “Challenge needs to be a bigger part of our society; how we challenge needs to be different.” [42:04] Too often, people confuse conflict and challenge. Rule #4: Challenge Everything. Brad explains what an effective positive challenge versus a negative conflict is. He outlines how to invite challenges to incite creativity with curious and human questioning. You need to stop coming to conversations with your boxing gloves on.
    • “Do you really tell 100% of the truth? Or do tell 100% of YOUR truth? It’s different than THE truth.” [49:45] The last rule is a tricky one. RULE #5: Demand 100% of the truth. Reject the 80% of the truth that is typical, and go after that additional 20%. There are things that are easier not to talk about: diversity, psychological safety, and inclusion. These are the truths that are often not told. We don’t have to have the answers, but we do need to have the questions. 
    • “Leadership doesn’t start at a certain time, later in our life. It starts early in our life.” [1:00:49] Brad is talking about the leadership tether; this is one of the exercises he encourages listeners to try as Brad and Marcel close out the episode. He asks listeners to go back as far as they can and create a timeline of events and opportunities where they were called on as leaders and consider the commonalities and feelings of belonging associated with these events.

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    About Marcel Schwantes

    Marcel Schwantes is the founder and chief human officer of Leadership from the Core, a global leadership training and executive coaching boutique aimed at developing great leaders and great cultures through Servant Leadership.

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