133: Dr. Steve Yacovelli – What Leaders Need to Know About Being Inclusive

Now, more than ever, our world needs diverse leaders

Dr. Steve Yacovelli is the author of Pride Leadership: Strategies for LGBTQ+ Professionals to Be the King or Queen of their Jungle. Steve is passionate about workplace equality, and specifically how leaders can be more “consciously inclusive” to foster a feeling of inclusion and belonging for all team members. 

His signature keynote, “Being a Consciously Inclusive Leader,” has won praise for its engaging, approachable, and memorable way to think about unconscious bias in the workplace. But don’t think he’s just an academic nerd: Steve is a rare breed of professional that understands the power of using academic theory, his experience in a variety of public and private settings, and applying this knowledge to the client’s workplace to achieve better results.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli (a.k.a. “The Gay Leadership DudeTM”) is the Owner & Principal of TopDog Learning Group, LLC, a leadership, change management, and diversity and inclusion consulting firm based in Orlando, Florida, USA but with affiliates (“TopDoggers”) throughout the globe. 

Steve and TopDog provide guidance and solutions in leadership and organizational development, change management, diversity and inclusion consulting, instructional design, and custom e-learning creation. Steve has worked with Fortune 500 companies  The Walt Disney Company, Bayer AG, Accenture, IBM, Covestro, Tupperware Brands Corporation, The Ohio State University, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Today, we talk about leadership as it relates to LGBTQ+ leaders and how to navigate the waters when you are writing, publishing, sharing a book, and still navigating these times. 

What We Discuss with Dr. Steve Yacovelli:

  • The conception of his book
  • The 6 Leadership Competencies in his book
  • His book writing process
  • Books that have impacted his life
  • Marketing the book and strategies for getting reviews
  • Pivoting the business at this time of the pandemic
  • The impact of publishing your book
  • Doing your marketing and writing at the same time

[01:27] The Impetus Behind Writing His Book

Steve has been in the leadership change management and diversity space for 20 years now. Then one day at the National Gay Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, he sat next to a woman who happens to be a publisher. He told her about a book in his head that he thought needed to come out. 

Then he started looking at some of the other queer leaders here in Orlando who are doing a lot of advocacy work as well as he does. He wondered if there was something about being a queer leader that gives them an opportunity to flex their leadership muscles differently than their straight brothers and sisters. And this became his hypothesis for the book. 

He came up with 6 Leadership Competencies for the book:

  1. Authenticity
  2. Courage
  3. Empathy
  4. Communications
  5. Relationships
  6. Culture
Channel your leadership awesomeness and you have the opportunity just to be even more amazing as a leader than you already are.

[05:28] What Companies Are Looking For

Many larger organizations are looking for an opportunity to share the leadership story specifically with their employee resource group.

Other groups out there are sharing a leadership story through their respective “other” lens like women in leadership, people of color, and some opportunities to focus there. But no one’s really speaking directly to the LGBTQ population. 

Chapter 3 of his book is called Being Consciously Inclusive, which lays the foundation of the whole book. 

If you do all these things, you’re creating yourself as a leader to be more consciously inclusive with all those around you and create that sense of belonging for those in your team and in your workplace. 

[06:57] His Book Writing Process

His first book was published so he could get the ISBN credit and at that time the academic writing was way different. Then his second book was for his doctorates in instructional technology and distance education. 

Once he got it, he started using what had been his doctoral research on people’s attitudes toward online learning. This laid the foundation for his next book called Overcoming Poopy e-Learning. When he wrote it, it was like the antithesis of academic writing. 

Pride Leadership serves as his first real-entry into having a publisher where he had an army of editors. For this book, he was working directly with leaders, which he used as his sample size population so he could observe from a qualitative data perspective. 

At that point, he came up with like 37 leadership competencies and filtered it down to 9 and finally to 6 competencies. 

[17:05] Marketing the Book

His publisher thought of having a unique URL for his books, www.steveonamazon.com. Have a plan and share it with everyone you can on all the channels that you can get in front of the right people. 

Find your “avatar” of who yould be the ideal reader and consumer of your book. 

In terms of getting reviews which is very challenging for many writers, Steve did a couple of strategies. He partnered with the local LGBT Chamber of Commerce where he gave them a free book and a free drink. He had a flyer for each book where they could have the reviews signed. His second strategy was to make sure people he really wanted to write a review would do it. The third strategy for him was through event communication where he would also ask for feedback. 

Always be asking for feedback.

Finally, make it wicked easy for them to do leave a review. For example, use Survey Monkey with a really simple URL. And carry cards that have the URL in there. You send that in an email. Just make it really simple for the person to do it so they’ll have that friction to get it done. You could also tell them that they could edit a review so it takes away the pressure.

[26:46] Pivoting the Business from Live Events to Online

Steve created an 8-week online leadership training program called Pride Leadership: The Lions Program.

It’s a group coaching program to help authors, speakers, and coaches think not just about writing a book but taking that and making it consumable in a different way (eg. virtual keynotes, webinar series, self-paced modules). These are viable ways to keep telling and propelling your story out to the online world.

Start to think and pivot a little bit differently. The need is so huge now for people to be okay and comfortable, and not just survive but thrive in this new digital world. 

[20:56] Leveraging Your Book to Grow Your Brand

Having a book published elevates yourself to be a thought leader. 

Be prepared to leverage that thought leadership and that perceived, justified or not, higher level of expertise, and then own it. Use that to your business advantage and use it to open doors to get those virtual keynotes. Do those podcast interviews and be on those panels and all that fun stuff. Be prepared to own it.

[32:05] Doing Your Marketing in Parallel with Your Writing

Develop both your marketing plan and your writing plan at the same time. Don’t wait for one to be done and then do the other. Do them both concurrently. And you actually might find that it’s kind of a nice break from writing a chapter today and think about how to approach social media.

Do marketing and writing in parallel, not one after the other. 

Episode Resources:


Steve’s online leadership program: Pride Leadership: The Lions Program

Grab Steve’s book: www.steveonamazon.com 

Pride Leadership: Strategies for LGBTQ+ Professionals to Be the King or Queen of their Jungle

Overcoming Poopy e-Learning

Book Mentions:

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

Good to Great by Jim Collins

slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte

Brene Brown’s books

Listen on:

133: Dr. Steve Yacovelli – What Leaders Need to Know About Being Inclusive 133: Dr. Steve Yacovelli – What Leaders Need to Know About Being Inclusive133: Dr. Steve Yacovelli – What Leaders Need to Know About Being Inclusive