Real connections within teams can create a culture shift for an entire company. Leading Below the Surface illustrates this vision, taking a radical stance against the "surface-ness" of corporate culture and exploring how highly rewarded behaviors are actually destroying organizations, blocking us all from creating truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive cultures of belonging.
This book is not a step-by-step instructional guide or dry academic theory. With a foreword by Amy Edmondson, author and Novartis Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School, this book is inspired by organizational culture research, social psychology and neuroscience frameworks. Leading Below the Surface is a compass for the purpose-driven and forward-thinking leader. It merges true stories from the lived experiences of culture leader LaTonya Wilkins with actionable insights backed by dynamic interdisciplinary research. Just like she has done for hundreds of coaching and organizational clients, LaTonya effectively coaches you through this transformation through each engaging chapter.
Leading Below the Surface disrupts the way we think about traditional leadership constructs and the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that have failed to make lasting change. The wisdom in these pages is powerful enough to not only change the way we think about corporate culture, but will instantly activate opportunities for the individual looking to advance their career while remaining authentic to who they are.
As a People Operations Executive, working with LaTonya has been transformative for my leaders, my company, and my personal professional growth. Building a culture of inclusion at our company is critical to our success as a business -- and by working with LaTonya we have refined our connection and shared vision as an Executive Team, enabling us to make better decisions on long-term, structural strategy in D&I work. Personally, I am a better people leader due to LaTonya's coaching, her ability to operate from a place free from judgment, facilitate tough conversations, and willingness to challenge in ways that increase accountability have been invaluable. I am excited she is sharing her perspective and thinking more broadly in Leading Below the Surface and look forward to reading it again with my team.
-Betsy McCann, People Operations Executive in the Tech Industry
There are very few below the surface leaders. Becoming a below the surface leader is vital to the success of your organization AND the people that you lead. LaTonya's unique experience has positioned her to create this easy-to-understand and practical guide. I witnessed this firsthand when she presented at our national conference, CultureCon. The audience was engaged and she provided them with action steps to make change in their own lives and within their organizations' respective cultures. Her presentation received some of the highest attendee reviews out of any speaker we have ever had at our conference. LaTonya's book is a must-read to better yourself, the people that you lead, and your organization's culture as a whole!
-Zach Blumenfeld, Co-Founder of CultureCon
LaTonya Wilkins wrote the book that speaks the uncomfortable and powerful truth about the failure of DEI programs. Leading Below the Surface teaches us how to embody inclusion, going beyond trying to say and do the "right things." The result will be what we all have been hoping for; finally developing real organizational cultures that truly embrace the brilliance of all people who walk through their doors.
-Dr. Marcia Reynolds, world-renowned leadership coach and author of Coach the Person, Not the Problem and The Discomfort Zone.
As head of Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) at a top business school, I know firsthand that DEI initiatives are change initiatives, and leaders who want to make sustainable change in their organizations would do well to read this book. Wilkins' direct and accessible writing provides needed insight into what hasn't worked and what is required to create meaningful relationships across differences.
-Denise Lewin Loyd, Associate Dean for Equity, Gies College of Business
LaTonya Wilkins opens up a new way of thinking about leadership, welcoming readers to the lessons she's learned over the years -- lessons about how leaders can build deeper, non-superficial relationships with the people they lead. She teaches us that leading below the surface not only helps people build better relationships with the individuals they lead and better cultures for their organizations, but the lessons she offers can help leaders build richer and more rewarding careers for themselves. Filled with actionable steps and exercises, Wilkins provides ideas for how to build the skills needed to lead in today's diverse, multicultural work environment -- skills which too often lie below the surface, just waiting to be tapped.
- Idie Kesner, Dean of the Kelley School of Business, Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management, Professor of Management