How to be a People Centered Leader | Kevin Jenkins


Our special guest this week is Kevin Jenkins. Kevin is a DEI director, coach and consultant currently working with Ralph Lauren. He has over 20 years of experience as a learning professional in various industries and has been a recognized public speaker since the age of 8! He joins us this week to share his take on leadership, communications, and how to be a better leader on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Kevin’s lessons for leaders are all centered on the people being led. He understands that results and revenue will follow if leaders look out for the people on their teams first. He shares with us valuable insights, including:

  • “Career Pathing”

  • How to message to multiple communication preferences

  • Why small DEI gestures are often the most meaningful

  • And much more

We know that the future of work will not be a return to what was normal; it is going to be more remote, more virtual, and full of new advantages and opportunities. Kevin helps us see that we can make the most of what is to come if we think inclusively and put our people first. Don’t miss our conversation!

Mentioned in this episode:


Kevin Jenkins: A leader has to have that intentional foresight and really, again, look to bring the best out of their people by putting them in the best position.

Voiceover: You’re listening to the Vibrant Leadership podcast with leadership speaker and consultant, Nicole Greer.

Nicole Greer: Welcome everybody, to the Vibrant Leadership podcast. This is Nicole Greer. And today I have none other than Kevin Jenkins with me, he is the husband and a father of three. He’s actually down in Orlando right now, taking care of one of the little ones who has a lot of talent, we might get a little peek into his life there. He has a passion for public speaking has been doing so since he was eight years old. He has 20 plus years of experience as a learning professional in various industries. Right now Ralph Lauren is lucky to have him on the team. And he’s currently leveraging learning in his background in his company as a DEI director, and a coach and a consultant. I am so glad you are here today, Kevin. Welcome to the Vibrant Leadership podcast.

Kevin: Hello, Nicole, thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here and talk to you for a little while.

Nicole: That’s awesome. It’s awesome. So you’re down there with one of your beautiful babes who’s in a dancing group, right, in Orlando?

Kevin: Yes, doing you know, doing the father and husband thing and you know, following where the children lead us. But it’s a pleasure to you know, just to watch them, do their thing, find their passion and, and just have fun and you know, enjoy all the things that come with, you know, being a child and growing up. So it’s a good time.

Nicole: That’s great. That’s great. Well tell the Mouse I said hello. He and I have met before. Tell him Nicole says hi. Well, let’s just jump right in. Because you’ve got such a unique and cool background. And you’ve seen a lot of things. Experienced a lot of things. Tell me a little bit about how you might define leadership.

Kevin: I think leadership is really about firstly has to be centered on people, I think that has to be the core of any leadership strategy and any leadership approach. And for me, leadership is really about clearing the path and create clearing the path for opportunity to access for others and enabling others to succeed, whatever that may require of a leader. 

Nicole: Okay, that’s fantastic. I love what you said clearing the path. You know, I heard somebody say one time, Kevin, you know, my job as a leader is to remove obstacles for people. So I totally heard that in your definition, and then enabling them to do the job you hired them to do so fantastic. I love that. So so what I think are the most important skills of a leader

Kevin: I think, you know, again, because it’s about people in leadership is really about taking others where they can go where they may not even realize they can go, I think empathy is huge. Being able to make connections, be able to understand others perspectives or experience, even if you don’t agree with it, even if it’s not your own. Being able to make that connection and understand why somebody would view the world the way that they do. I think that’s important to be able to tap into to in any, you know, in order to be able to develop someone else, give someone else the needed to support, you know, have conversations about career pathing and things along those lines, you really have to be able to make a connection to others. A genuine and sincere connection.

Nicole: Yeah, so I can’t agree with you more, I think, you know, using those soft skills that aren’t really that soft. People is a huge skill set. And I love what you said about you know, you need to have empathy, you got to be able to see other people’s perspective, don’t miss all these great things. And Kevin is telling us right now, you know, I picked up on this, this little phrase you used career pathing. And, you know, I think sometimes leaders really struggle with the idea of okay, I’ve got to set a strategy. Like we got to sell things today. We’ve got to build things today. But then there’s this whole idea of having the strategy of helping people get on their career inside your organization, can you share a little bit about what career pathing looks like in your mind? Or how a leader might do that?

Kevin: Absolutely. I mean, for me, I don’t see the two as being mutually exclusive. I really think they have to go hand in hand. And yes, of course, regardless of the industry we’re in, we have to generate revenue, we’re in business to do business. So that is totally understood. But your your people are the vehicle by which through that happen. So the better you position them, the more you develop them, the more efficiently and innovatively your organization will be able to do with the bottom line is and with the overarching goal is is to be successful. But again, you do that with and by your people. 

And by empowering them. So thinking about where they’re going to go thinking about where they’re going to end up thinking about what they want to do and, and what’s going to bring the best out of them, find new ways to support passions and things along those lines to me is critical. I think about the great leaders I’ve had the pleasure being under throughout the course of my career. And for the majority of those some of the first conversations we had were simply about what do I want to do they plainly asked me Kevin, where do you see yourself going? 

What are your goals, and then we were able to think work out things based on where I was at that current time. But also come up with strategies and flight plans that were going to support that through different mechanisms. And within whatever organization or piece of a business I was in at that time. But I just it has to be, a leader has to have that intentional foresight, and really, again, look to bring the best out of their people by putting them in the best positions.

Nicole: Oh, that’s so good. That’s so good. Yeah. So matching skills and passions with what needs to be done to make the bottom line happy. Don’t miss that, everybody. You mentioned that you had a couple of leaders that really influenced you. And sometimes these are some of the best stories, you know, it’s just like somebody kind of looks at Kevin and goes, hmm, that one’s got potential. So do you have a story like that that might illustrate, you know, a great leader for us?

Kevin: Absolutely. Actually, you know, I have quite a few in what you just said, for me, those have been one of the things that worked for me that it made the great leaders I had great, they notice something in me quite often that I may not even been aware of myself, and put me in a position even if it was uncomfortable, even if it was scary, sometimes they put me in a place, made sure that I knew support was there and readily available when they were going to help me succeed. But they put me in the places to succeed and to grow into experience things. Putting me, you know, bringing me into a room with high visibility in front of some key members of the organization. You know, given me an opportunity to present something I may have contributed to. 

Things along those lines have been just some of the simple things that leaders have done for me. And that’s, that’s something for me, I think, is huge, too, we think of leadership. And we’re looking at all kinds of models and strategies, and you layer these drivers on top of these competencies, and you have to go through this model this way. And those things are great, those things are helpful. But I found what was most impacts was the little everyday things. You know, I noticed you were passionate about this, why don’t you come to the meeting to speak for our team about it. 

Something like that goes a long way in is huge. Just to know that you have enough faith in me in my abilities, that your interest is to me, you allow me to be in the room with the CEO, or speak and present to the C suite. Because you believe in my ability, even if I’m nervous or don’t think I can do it, I’m not the right person to do so. That faith of a leader and that pushing sometimes has done wonders for me personally over the years.

Nicole: Yeah, so I love that. So he just told us that, you know, leaders are going to find opportunities to showcase you put you in a position to use talents you may not even recognize in yourself, and then in support you in the process. So I think all of those are beautiful. Now, in your bio, you said that you’ve been public speaking since you’re eight years old. Okay. So I do a ton of public speaking, I think speaking and telling people, your viewpoint your stories are essential to leadership. So number one, how did you start when you were eight? And number two, tell me a little bit about how public speaking or the ability to speak in front of a group is an essential leadership skill?

Kevin: Absolutely. Well, you know, it’s funny, I just had a conversation with my mom last week about how did this start and really trying to get down to it. But it’s been just something I’ve always done and always have enjoyed, which is actually surprising, because I have a strong preference for introversion. But public speaking is something you know, this just was a bright spot for me. Something I really felt empowered and comfortable doing, I started doing it a, my mother would find opportunities or for oral contests for me to present and things along those lines. And we continued to build on that. And then we’re able to continue to visit school organizations and things along those lines, and it’s really has been my avenue has been my outlet. 

And really just is, you know, that’s one of the places that charges me up. And I get a lot of energy from being able to do it. And and I think you know, from a leadership perspective is just about communication. And that’s the essential, it has to be able to communicate business strategy, you know, communicate plans and the project planning of how we’re going to get from ideation to delivery on whatever this deliverable or initiative is. And then also, you know, communication, again, of even the simple things like being able to help somebody see and understand that I see you, I understand you, I know you’re here and know the things that you need. I’ve heard about the things that you’ve been saying. 

But that communication is just critical and is something a leader has to be effective at. Because we all have preferences for how we deliver and receive information. So even as a leader, you have to be adaptable, and adapt to the preferences of others and make the message as easy for them to digest as possible. So delivered to me in a way that I prefer. And you know, quite often as leaders we’re leaving leading teams have mixed people with different preferences. So even in the moment being able to flex between those two to satisfy the needs of multiple in one setting. Those are all skills that we have to have.

Nicole: I just love what you said. I just did a recent podcast with Lenora Billings Harris. And I don’t know if you know that name. Do you know that name? 

Kevin: Yes!

Nicole: Okay. So she is a wonderful human being she lives right here in North Carolina with me. And we were talking and so you, you just kind of threw out the definition of one of her favorite words, which ubuntu. Right? Like, I see you, you see me, we both exist. It’s like, let’s, let’s pull it all together here, people. So I absolutely adore that. You just threw out Lenora Billings Harris. favorite word. But it’s a Swahili word. Right. So. So I know you also do D, E and I work, which is diversity, equity and inclusion. Tell me a little bit about the skill sets that go with diversity, equity and inclusion. I mean, I think you’ve named some of them already. But let’s connect the dots for people.

Kevin: Absolutely. And I think they go hand in hand with those leader capabilities as well. It’s, it’s that empathy, it’s, you know, about the ability, you know, cognizance, just being aware of your blind spots, your potential biases, that may be impacting situations, because we all have them as a byproduct of simply being human beings, and how our brains are hardwired to work. Those are things you have to be curious, you know, willing to learn and genuinely have an interest in learning about the experiences in the past, the challenges, and even the desires and drivers of others, cultural intelligence, so that cultural competence is huge, you have to be able to effectively work in cross cultural situations. 

And you know, when we think about business, you know, different departments have different cultures, and this is a conversation I have, quite often we tend to think of culture is thinking about region of the globe or ethnic background. But you know, procurement is going to have a totally different culture, then, you know, then a wholesale or then at the supply chain, piece of the business or even the HR piece of the business. So understanding and how to effectively communicate and interact, cross culturally within the organizational structure is huge as well. I think commitment is definitely a big piece. 

And that’s something that has to be on display, constantly, your commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and not just, you know, the performative actions of championing the company line, or what’s popular to say, and today’s social structure. But demonstrating that commitment through action, you know, it’s about the hands, the head and the heart, all three of these moving, to demonstrate that commitment for folks in you know, being quite honest in the place. I think a lot of us shy away from it don’t want embrace is, that this takes courage too. You know you’re doing a lot of different things in this space. 

And as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion become more of the conversation, you know, we’re going to be in some awkward spaces, there’s a lot we don’t know about others outside of our in group or outside of, you know, the groups that we have affinities with and, and in all honestly, as we’re trying to do this learning and trying to make connections with others, we’ll make some mistakes. But we have to get comfortable with that. Get okay with not getting it 100%, right, that’s, that’s par for the course. You know, those feelings of awkwardness or, you know, I’ve been really scared, I don’t want to say this the wrong way. To me, those are signs that number one, you’re invested. 

And then number two, most importantly, you’re growing. If you’re always feeling good in the spaces you’re in, you’re not, you’re not you’re not really doing any growth or development should embrace those moments of awkwardness. And again, when we have those missteps, which we inevitably will, you will simply acknowledge them, own them, and commit to not duplicating them and really use them as learning opportunities. A mistake is an opportunity for you just to enhance your skill set, add some other things to the toolbox. So, but it’s a journey, and it’s a daily journey. 

And I think it requires intention, day in and day out, too. When we we get comfortable when we fall back on those habits or things we know, that’s when that, you know, that dangerous part of the brain can take over. And we’re doing those things that could have a damaging impact on the sense of belonging for others. So it does require a lot of attention and intention to do it. And even when we’re making mistakes, we’ll be able to still get some positives out of those moments too.

Nicole: 100%. Yeah, so essentially, what I heard you say is in order to do D, E and I, we gotta we gotta we gotta allow things to be messy. You know, Kevin, I had this master coach. And he said, he said, when you’re coaching people, don’t try to ask the right question. I was like, what? And he’s like, he’s like, no, you’ll be trying too hard. He’s like, you know, here’s what you need to do is you need to just let everything best be messy if it needs to be because you need to kind of just move into these conversations. And I think if you have like you said, your hand, your heart, your head all in the game and your intentions are good. It’s gonna get messy but you’re paying attention and I love your intention and attention so we’re totally jiving today. I have a mentor. Her name is Ann Starrette and she goes, she says, Nicole, don’t just give it attention, give it intention. 

Kevin: Absolutely.

Nicole: And then we can say we want to lose weight. But if you don’t eat a salad today. So that’s how that goes. Okay. All right. So do you have any great stories or a leader that has been so good at making sure that diversity, equity and inclusion is happening inside the organization, I mean, obviously, where you’re at, I mean, they’ve hired you to focus on that, particularly, I’m sure you have a lot of responsibility knowing you. But but you have a story that shows us how maybe how you’ve changed things or things have gotten better, or you’ve learned a great lesson that you’ve talked, just talked about learning lessons.

Kevin: And, you know, I’ve learned, you know, the past 18 months, I think, for us, as a country, and even the world has been, we’ve been on a steep learning curve. And a lot of it’s coming to light, our attention has been drawn to things that we may have been able to gloss over or not be fast focused on before. And just throughout this, again, it’s been little moments that have been extremely powerful for me. For instance, I was actually on furlough during the time of the George Floyd murder. But during that time it happened. And my manager at the time, even though I was out of the business, they called me just to check on me. I just, you know, hey, as I am paying attention, I understand everything that’s going on, I just wanted to check in on you and see how you’re doing. And that meant the world to me. 

Because you know, it’s easy to think in a business, hey, I’m just a number, especially if you go through that emotional roller coaster during a furlough, I lay off times, and maybe I’m not as valuable as I thought and all those things. And just for that number to ring up on my phone out of the blue, and it just be, I don’t want to know where you stored something before you went on furlough. I didn’t want to ask you any business question, I just want to check on you and take a few moments and make sure you’re in a good place considering everything. That was huge, because showed me they you know, they thought about me, I was seen, even though I wasn’t in the space, I was still seen and they knew that this could potentially have an impact on me. And it’s been other things like that a leader noticing a change in my demeanor. I’m just asking me again, before we get to business, just want to make sure you know, past few days, you’ve been different. Is everything okay? You know, do you need any? What do you need for me, you know, and all those things, it is those things that have been the most powerful. 

For me, it’s not about the big grand gestures, because I think we’ve seen too quite often they can be performative, or just come across as empty, because all the other things are there to really support them. I find that that the little stuff that happens in the day to day those things that happened in a meeting you not interrupting me, you remembering that I was, you know, this, the idea was kind of born in my head. You understand that something taking place outside of the four walls of our office would be impacting me, and I’m probably bringing that into the office. Those things go a long way with me, because again, that shows the authenticity that shows the sincerity. 

And like you said, it shows that you’re being attentive to what’s taking place with with me, they may not I’m probably not impacting you the same way, but you have an understanding of how it may be, you know, impacting my world, and how I’m not going to be able to leave that even at the virtual door, especially, you know, with not moving spaces much. I’m not just gonna be able to drop that off and leave that part of me. And I think it’s also big that, you know, a leader doesn’t require expect me to allow me to bring my authentic and whole self into the space. And it’s okay to be that I don’t have to hide a piece of me, I don’t, you know, there’s no more of those things that are taboo, you just don’t talk about it work. Because again, those things are a piece of me. 

And understanding in order for me to give all I’m capable of giving I’ve got to bring all of that stuff with me to the table too. That’s it that informs everything I’m going to do. And making that okay and even sometimes probing proactively and leader just there put it on their curiosity hat. Hey, this is a moment for if you’re willing to teach me help, me understand. And I even think that piece is huge, not making it a requirement not making it an expectation, but creating a space for sharing of experiences and things along those lines and their willingness to listen and not argue not refute not debating, even if it’s totally different than their experience. Just accepting it is valid for me.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. So a lot of what you just said, I think is so good. And I just in ringing in my head is this idea of emotional intelligence, emotional intelligence, right? So it’s first of all having that self awareness that I experienced thing one way. Kevin experienced them another way Wouldn’t it be cool if we knew what each other’s experience was right. Which is social awareness right the third bucket. The second bucket is I manage a leader manages themselves in such a way that they I love what he said don’t miss this y’all. Y’all, that’s what we say in Cocord. But his curiosity curiosity hat on, you know, I had this person say to me, one time when I think I need to be right about something, or I have a really strong opinion, I’m trying to do this interrupt in my behavior, where I turn to wonder, but I thought that I’m gonna steal that and put it in my pocket. 

So wouldn’t it be great if all leaders could turn to wonder? And that’s what I heard your leader did they? They said, Hey, you know, Kevin’s not around right now because of this crazy COVID. But you know, we should be probably be checking in on him, because when it’s over, obviously, he’s gonna be back on our team. You know, it’s like, also they the understanding that once on the team, always on the team, you know, that kind of thing. I think that’s really beautiful. I love your story. 

Kevin: Thank you. 

Nicole: Yeah. And then and then of course, there’s the thing of relationship management, which is exactly what you just said, right? The guy or gal called you and said, Are you okay, what’s up? So it’s all the four buckets. And I’ll repeat them real quick, because I bet you Kevin teaches this on the daily. It’s self awareness, self management, social awareness, and then of course, relationship management. So all of those are so huge. In the in the work that we do, D, E and I also just plain old, good old leadership, right? really huge. 

Okay, so I got another question for you. What do you believe make some leaders successful while others struggle? Because truth telling honesty and candor, Kevin, you and I have both had a great boss, we both had a boss that was. And the sad thing is that whoever was their leader, didn’t give them what they needed. So they could have intention and attention and emotional intelligence and all those things. And we just suffered under this person. Right. So what do you think some, just get in there and get it and some struggle on the struggle bus.

Kevin: And, you know, I think the last point you raised is huge, too, that sometimes it’s, I’m simply doing what was role modeled for me. I had a leader that was highly regarded in the organization. And they have just been a bit about results, results, results, they got them accolades, they got some success, it got the move vertically, they got new titles. And so that has taught me right or wrong intentionally or not, that that’s the way to success. And so we you know, that role modeling is huge. And we, you know, just people are paying attention to that we’re constantly learning. And again, if I see something that has got someone to a certain level, or someone I’m aspiring to be or follow in their path, I think the way they did, it must have been the right way to get there. 

So having someone that actually has done or is doing the things, I’m going to do those when I’m in their position, I’m going to take those as right. And then also, I just think we, a lot of times have an archaic or outdated definition of leadership that we’re looking at. And, you know, and we, we think, for whatever reason I’ve seen quite often it’s, it’s taken that attention to people and that people side is seen as a weakness, and it because it’s quite often as hard for folks to find the correlation to that attention to people to the results. But I think that’s really where where it is, again, your people have to be the vehicle that you get this through or with rather, and so you have to be able to make those connections. And again, I think it’s losing sight of the things that are really controllable, those little everyday things. Number one ourselves. 

And that’s why, you know, because the things that Covey has put out into the world, and a lot of that being that internal focus, and making sure I have this aligned before I look to create that interdependency with others, I think is huge, as well. But a lot of those things we consider nice to dos. Yeah, I’ll do that. But I got to get these numbers down first, that has to be my priority. And again, I don’t think they live in different silos, you know, we can walk and chew gum at the same time, quite often, we have to. And so we need these things need to be occurring in parallel. And it’s not one before the other, or you know, can’t be it as an ala carte option. Well, you know, I’ll add it, it’ll be nice to have. But I’ll get to that later, I need to focus on these other things first, and that’s what I’m liking or I’m starting to enjoy more and more about the DEI diversity, equity, inclusion space, is that these things are just becoming part of it’s no longer leadership and diversity and inclusion is diversity, equity and inclusion is a core competency of leadership. 

And it has to be, you know, you think about where we are in the 21st century, thinking about the way we’re working like right now you and I connected virtually, and this has been the majority of our work world for the past 18 months or so. So even in this space with the remote working and losing those physical face to face, even casual hallway or coffee moments, it requires that even more effort to do those things and even recreate some of those connections. But again, it goes back to being intentional about it having a play and not letting it happen by chance. You want it to be something you can duplicate something you can transfer. 

So being intentional about it and paying attention again to the little things and it’s hard to do in the moment, when we’re multitasking, we’re under tight deadlines, where our brain is going to go to a place that’s going to allow us to focus on the work. And the brain is trying to take care of so many things. But when that happens for us, a lot of important things we’re letting our autopilot brain take care of which is extremely dangerous. And since conflicting messages that don’t match up with what our intentions are, so even more, so it requires that in those moments, but like any muscle, you flex it, you put the intention into doing it over and over, especially when it’s uncomfortable after a while you build that muscle memory. And you’re able to do this is part of the course and it requires less effort. But we do have to set ourselves up for success in that in that way, and focusing on those things to make them just part of how we operate.

Nicole: Yeah, I totally agree. And what I’m hearing you say it’s like, it’s all about how you think he keeps talking about your, your brain, everybody. And so let’s just go there for a moment. So you have this thing called a spinal cord that runs right into this thing called an amygdala. And that amygdala was put in there by the Creator to keep us safe. Right, like so we have. And there’s four things that amygdala can do that. I don’t know growing up, Kevin, I’m older than you. But you know, we were taught it’s the fight or flight reaction, but there’s actually fight, flight, breathe and deflect. And I think probably the one that is more 21st century problem is deflect, like, that’s not my problem. 

Kevin: I didn’t do that, or that’s not me. I don’t think that way. 

Nicole: Yeah, yeah. And so I think the fourth one is the most dangerous because that’s the one of delusion, right? Like, you don’t know, you’re talking about a blind spot, right? So so I think that one’s really, really important. And then, you know, being able to traverse from the back of your head to up here to this giant prefrontal cortex we have where we can do some really proper thinking. And in turn on our wonder in our get our curiosity hat on, I think that’s just absolutely essential. And I’m racking my brain right now to kind of think of this guy’s TED talk, but it’s Dr. Joe, oh, maybe it’ll come to me for this podcast. It’s up. Anyways, email me. 

So Dr. Joe, he talks about the fact that you know, your brain based on your thinking patterns, wires in place. And so what you have to do is you have to, like break apart the way it’s wired, and then wire it a different way. So you have a new way of thinking. Your neural passageways move a different way. And I think leaders do that for themselves, which is the part about cover you were talking about, you know, like I do that internal work first. And then I influence other people to examine their own beliefs, motives, morals, all those good things, right, so that we can have a company full of great people, right? 

Kevin: Absolutely. Definitely. I love I love the design. You know, I’m somewhat of a geek about the science behind all of this. So I get excited. I love thinking about it when you’re talking about the neuro pathways and creating new ones. And just getting I don’t know, like I said, I’m a big nerd when it comes to this. I enjoy that stuff.

Nicole: Yeah. And those are the people listening to this. They’re like, What is the name of the TED talk? But they’re just as nerdy as I’ve Kevin. It’s awesome. Yeah. All right. So so you’re out there working? You guys are back to work? Correct? 

Kevin: Yes. 

Nicole: Okay, you’re back to work. Okay. So other than the getting back to work struggle that everybody’s on? What do you think the biggest challenges leaders are going to face? Like maybe into 2022? Next two, three years? What do you think the biggest challenges are? What do you think? What do you think we got to get prepped for and maybe thinking about in a world of leadership,

Kevin: I think we have to embrace, you know, a phrase that I think we’ve been hearing for the past year and a half and really been looking forward to, I think, because we just seeking to get into post COVID. But we have to embrace that we’re not going to be able to go back to what was normal before. You know, I think we’ve seen that that old, that version of normal wasn’t working for a lot of folks, was leaving a lot of folks in the margins, othering a lot of people. And so, you know, yes, we want to get to this post COVID world, but I think take some of the lessons we’ve learned or some of the things have been exposed with this, we have to carry those forward as well. And that’s really going to for me, what I see is the key to moving successfully from this point forward. It’s, you know, embracing these things, you know, I think this remote working and flexible working situations are going to be part of our world from here on out. 

Even if it’s not to the capacity that it has been, you know, it’s going to be part of this. So, you know, how are we making those connections in this virtual space? You know, how am I including and how am I keeping my team together and aligned within this virtual space with all of us not being physically in a room together, those type things and just continuing to push the bounds. Continuing and you know, even being proactive and looking for ways to be ahead of the curve, you know, then and not waiting for a situation to force us there. But you know, I’m sure, and I would hope a lot of companies are saying, No, we consider flexible work arrangements in advance, it might have been easier for us to pivot once the pandemic hit. You know, and so things along those lines, and always forward in future thinking about what does the workplace look like? 

And, you know, how are my people going to be supported with that? And what does success look like, in this new world that we have, you know, because phrase I hear quite often that I love is even crisis presents opportunity. And I really think we’ve seen that in multitude of ways over the past year and a half that I keep referencing, and we just have to continue to look for that, you know, finding that silver lining, find what’s coming out of us. You know, I know, for me, personally, I’ve been able to reach just a lot more people in my organization, because of circumstances, we’ve been forced into using virtual delivery methods I’ve been able to reach people I never would have been able to interact with on a regular basis. 

So how do we keep that going while we’re still getting back to, you know, going to the office, sometimes? You know, how do we find this balance of taking the best of what it was, and adding to that a lot of the valuable lessons we have learned, because of circumstances and because we had to figure out how to keep business going. But doing it in a safe way that was going to support the needs of everybody.

Nicole: I totally agree, I think it’s gonna be a hybrid. You know, and if leaders aren’t already talking about how to do this in a hybrid way, and then like you’re saying, actually, you know, flex and find that silver lining and leverage the fact that we can easily get all the genius in the room, you know what I mean? I was just in a room last week, I was working with a company here in Charlotte, North Carolina. And we had two gentlemen who are on the whole situation all the way from Canada, one was in the middle of nowhere, Canada, was in Canada, I would try to pronounce the name, but it was like this long and 20 seconds. 

And, and then the other gentleman was in Toronto, and, and we just, you know, whenever we needed them, we dial them up, we had the genius right in the room that we needed. I mean, think about just having access to your resources like that. And these two gentlemen were funny, which I think is the best character trait of anybody like habits and tumor, hello. And they brought their genius, they brought their humor, and we were able to do things, you know, that we wouldn’t have been able to do. I don’t know. But back in the day, we didn’t call people because it was long distance. 

Kevin: A toll call. You’re taking me back. You’re making a toll call now. 

Nicole: I used to get yelled at for being on the phone for more that ten minutes. Now I zoom all day long. Anyways, all right. Um, so it’s been a delight to have you on the Vibrant Leadership podcast, we could just keep talking and talking, and maybe we’ll do that again. But I know there’s one special single listener out there that wants one piece of Kevin advice or coaching. What what little piece of advice would you leave the listener with?

Kevin: It may sound cliche, but something I’m a big believer and I like to encourage people to do is be you. Be your authentic self. I think and, you know, we’re we’re fortunate enough to be at a place now where socially, we’re accepting and we really want people to really embrace their full selves and, and find the value in the unique individual that they are. So I think that’s going to lead to success. For a lot of folks, we focus quite a bit, you know, on developing those areas of opportunity. Things that we aren’t as strong at, but you embrace those to continue to learn. 

But you know, go on a learning journey, but be you and don’t lose any of that don’t feel ashamed for any piece of who you are. We’re unique individuals for a reason in there, literally billions of unique combinations of characteristics walking the planet, but that’s what makes the whole thing work. So embrace the power of youth. Look to enhance, look to develop, be intentional about that, be an advocate for yourself, have that self awareness. But you know, my biggest overarching message is embrace the beauty of the uniqueness that is you. And understand there’s some things that only you can bring to the table, find ways to leverage that in and find ways to make those unique things about you impactful. 

And, you know, my biggest piece of advice that I personally have benefited from over the past couple of years is do what scares you. The thing that scares you. The thing that you think, Oh my god, I can’t, I can’t put myself in that place. I’ve never been there before. Whatever generates all those feelings that healthy anxiety. That’s the thing that you need to do because you’ll come out so much better for it on the other side. Even if you struggle through even if you’re fumbling while you’re doing it. Step out there do the things that really would cause you to freeze would that amygdala hijack push past them? Because that’s where growth and development and success is going to be.

Nicole: All right, you heard it right here, Kevin Jenkins says be you. Right? Very, very important. I love what you all the things that you said about self assessment. And I, you know, and Kevin, just between you and me and all the people listening, I think people don’t do a good job at figuring out you. You know, like they need you need to slow down, you need to journal you need to reflect. You need to, you need to really do some work around that. I mean, it is you are much more complicated and capable. 

And you know, such a unique preacher, you got to figure out what that is, too. So I love what you said. And then he said, he said, get out there and do something that will scare you. That’s what he said. Right? So absolutely important. Very, very important. All right. Well, Kevin, it’s been an absolute delight. If people want to get a hold of you pick your brain about leadership about diversity, equity, inclusion, how to handle having three daughters.

Kevin: I can tell you how I can just tell you how to survive the last. That’s all I could do. Because I’m still I’m still navigating and figuring that one out.

Nicole: How would people find you if we wanted to find you? Where are you?

Kevin: Feel free to contact me. I can reach out shoot, drop me a note at info@speakupcoachandconsulting.

Nicole: Okay, very good. All right. Well, everybody, you heard that we’ll make sure it’s on the screen. It’s also at the end of the podcast again. We’ll repeat that. So please reach out to Kevin if he can help you and Kevin, thank you so much. You need to go. You have to go ride a a tea cup or something.

Kevin: Thank you Nicole. It was great talking to you about to go find the Mouse, so you have a good rest of the day.

Nicole: You too.

Voiceover: Ready to up your leadership game? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference or organization to help them with her unique SHINE method to increase clarity, accountability, energy and results. Email and be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at

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