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130: Leaders with Heart Create a Space for Others to Follow

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In this rich episode, Heather speaks with LaToya Lyn about her drive to lead (which you will love), her short time spent with the late John Lewis, civil rights advocate who was very close with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and some brilliant pearls of wisdom for every leader to think about.

Key takeaways:

  • As a leader, it is not what you do, but how you do it.
  • Leaders don’t lead; they create a space for others to follow.
  • Do your people feel like they need an invitation to participate, or are they free to join?
  • Lead in and bring your people into your circle.
Don’t miss this insightful ride! Listen and learn!

LaToya Lyn is an HR leader with a deep passion for people within the workplace. 

LaToya has a dual masters in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior from Brooklyn College. Her professional experience spans from executive coaching to driving organizational changes and culture transformations for technology companies globally. She has contributed to the world of cognitive neuroscience, including adult learning theories, and animal research. 

LaToya is also a four-time National DisruptHR presenter, GoCoach, and ThinkHuman reoccurring contributor. She is also a recent Harvard University and MIT executive coaching and artificial intelligence professional. 

Bringing People

I have had various leadership opportunities. I have been blessed with a gift to bring people together, as well as bring out their best selves and their fullest potential in a very authentic way. Also, I have also been blessed to be a student and to learn from them. It’s been just a great journey and I’m really looking forward to my next chapter.

I think I was placed in leadership roles, because people listen to me and not because I had a smart thing to say. If I am asked how did I choose to lead, I think I just don’t know any better.


I am in a position to move forward knowing that John Lewis is over all of us. – LaToya Lyn #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Not Alone

John Lewis was an amazing figure in everybody’s life from a political and civil rights standpoint. He was best known as Martin Luther King’s right-hand partner, his steady hand, who kind of kept his heart to the ground, and really fought against the adversities among people in the South.

He protested for people of color, Black people especially, who were being oppressed and segregated in the height of the Jim Crow era. He had been a congressman and a part of our American constitution for many years. He had written lots of legislation and fought for everyone’s rights. He was a divine human being.

I had a chance to meet him. A few years ago, I was asked to do a keynote at a private college in New Jersey. Part of it was to have the opportunity to meet Congressman John Lewis, and he was supposed to give us some encouragement to get us juiced up.

Then something told me to just go up to him, so I went up to him. I just said to him, “Why is it so hard?” I am the only black woman in an executive leadership space, and I’m always there to help and guide people through. But no one is helping me.

He looked me in the eye, grabbed by hand very firmly, and told me, “Don’t worry. You’re not alone.” I didn’t explain much but he immediately knew what I was talking about. He also told me, “The ancestors are guiding you. Don’t worry.” Hearing such encouragement was one of the most pivotal moments in my life.

I call the people that report to me my colleagues intentionally. My role as their leader is to inspire them and move things out of the way. – LaToya Lyn #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Being a leader is a privilege. – LaToya Lyn #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Align and Respect

People ask me, “What makes you a good leader?” Or, “What makes anyone a good leader?” That is a billion-dollar industry. But I always advise people to get aligned with their own values.

What’s important to me is that I am high-integrity. I have gone through so much in my life like oppression and traumas. But I act with a sense of urgency, naturally, because time is limited. When I think about integrity, it’s about the intention and not the mistakes

We work in a model where direct reports know more than you. Direct reports have expertise that I don’t have. With that, then what I need to do is to work on my character and how I approach things to get the most out of people. Hence, leaders need to check in with themselves how they can lead their teams effectively.

Another thing that’s really important is respect for my life. Because I have respect for my life, I will automatically have respect for yours.

Our tendency as human beings is either to fight or flight. But to fight when you’re leading someone is very difficult. – LaToya Lyn #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Working with kids had groomed me to be the leader I am today because I had to really listen with my heart. – LaToya Lyn #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet


Connect with LaToya on LinkedIn

Read LaToya’s article on John Lewis HERE.

Subscribe, rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts

Listen to the podcast on Spotify

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Heather R. Younger, J.D. YouTube Channel