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The Legendary Leaders Podcast

Sep 13, 2022

Do you have a sense of belonging at the workplace? As a leader, are you offering phycological safety for employees to feel a sense of belonging? Belonging means having an accepted seat at the table where you’re valued, heard, and seen. 

In this episode of the Legendary Leaders Podcast, we have LaTonya Wilkins, the Founder of Change Coaches, a credentialed coach, a sought-after Keynote Speaker, and the Author of Leading Below the Surface book. She works with Executive Leaders and their teams where human connection and cultural change really happen: below the surface.

Listen in to learn the importance of acknowledging the affinity bias in your organization and start making changes. You will also learn the power of having values and recognizing when they’re being violated at the workplace. 



This podcast is sponsored by InnerProfessional online training programs. With courses geared specifically for Legendary Leaders, InnerProfessional provides an extraordinary catalog of leadership and professional development programs unlike any online training you’ve experienced before. 

Key Takeaways:

  • How empathetic listening, psychological safety, and REAL Leadership encourage a sense of belonging.
  • The value of bringing external coaching to help with your diversity and inclusion dilemmas. 
  • How implementing strategies and structures in your organization can improve diversity and inclusion. 
  • How to acknowledge the affinity bias in your organization and start making changes. 
  • The importance of getting a coach that understands you when making a big career change. 

Episode timeline: 

  • [1:13] Intro
  • [5:46] LaTonya’s book ‘Leading Below the Surface’ – psychological safety at the workplace. 
  • [7:58] The ideas around diversity and inclusion that inspired her to write her book.  
  • [12:35] She talks about her identity discovery and how she found her true belonging.
  • [15:19] The three things that create a sense of belonging and are the future of Leadership. 
  • [19:50] A study showing the disconnect between employers and employees during the great resignation.
  • [22:56] The steps to consider to streamline diversity and inclusion when you can’t make it work.
  • [25:47] LaTonya explains the two ways she and her team offer DEI coaching to organizations. 
  • [28:41] The DEI strategies and structures that you need to put in place in your organization. 
  • [35:00] The three types of biases and the importance of acknowledging and making changes to the affinity bias. 
  • [40:06] The importance of thinking about diversity in the short-term before the long-term. 
  • [42:12] She talks about her award for being the most inclusive HR influencer in 2019. 
  • [45:18] LaTonya on the coach who made an impact on her when she was making a career change. 
  • [47:57] The power of having values, and recognizing when they’re being violated. 


  • “Belonging is a sense of independence between you and the organization where you are valued, seen, and heard.”- LaTonya Wilkins [16:10]
  • “In order to have a greater sense of belonging in an organization for employees, it’s got to be an individual effort.”- LaTonya Wilkins [17:31]
  • “If you’re thinking about how you’re going to have diversity for many years, start thinking about it today and tomorrow.”- LaTonya Wilkins [41:07]


Find | LaTonya Wilkins

Business Website: 

On LinkedIn: 

On Facebook: 

On Instagram:

Book: Leading Below the Surface

Bio:  Founder of The Change Coaches, LaTonya Wilkins partners with executives, upwardly mobile professionals, and teams to build cultures of belonging through highly customized coaching and consulting services. She is a sought-after keynote speaker and has inspired audiences all over the world. She built her career working in HR, talent management and learning & development at Fortune 500 companies before teaching and taking on progressive leadership roles at the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business. LaTonya is currently the President of the True Star Youth Foundation board. She gained industry recognition when she was featured on the peer-nominated list of most inclusive HR influencers in 2019.

LaTonya developed her signature concept of Below the Surface Leadership based on her own experience climbing the corporate ladder and researching across disciplines while constantly being the “only one” on her teams. This revolutionary approach to leadership is about creating psychologically safe relationships across differences, empowering underrepresented employees to feel valued, heard, and engaged, and creating cultures of belonging in the workplace.

LaTonya’s clients often describe her as approachable, non-judgmental, inspiring, creative, unique, and insightful. You may experience her the same way as you read through Leading Below the Surface.





Find | Cathleen Merkel


On Instagram: @CathleenMerkel

On Facebook: @CathleenMerkelCoaching

On LinkedIn: @CathleenMerkel


About Cathleen Merkel:  

As a Thought Leader in the Mindset & (Self-) Leadership space, Cathleen supports high achieving, 
worn-out women create a more content & balanced life, without sacrificing their hard-earned success. Following a simple 6 step framework, she helps you not only reconnect with your inner feminine side; Cathleen also supports you to rediscover your REAL YOU! 

Cathleen focuses on women who have lost their sense of purpose, who feel they are ‘running in a hamster wheel’, trying to please everyone but themselves. She helps you to turn your careers, your social connections and personal life around so that you will start feeling fulfilled and excited again about the days to come.  At the end of the process, Cathleen's clients will feel healthier, happier, energised and clear about their future.  

With over 15 years of Leadership experience in Retail, Media & Broadcasting, Engineering and Property Investment, Cathleen has not only experienced the challenges and opportunities of a Female Leader herself; she has also been leading and supporting various Leadership Development initiatives within large, complex, multinational matrix organisations. 

Only by deeply experiencing her very personal life challenges – ‘hitting a wall experiences’ – was Cathleen able to redefine her own purpose, deciding to bring ease and content to as many women as possible on the planet!


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