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Leisse Wilcox: “Listen, actively”

Listen, actively. When we focus on the emotional health and well-being of colleagues and employees, we get a clear sense of what is working, what isn’t, and what would make It better, As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Leisse Wilcox. […]

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Listen, actively. When we focus on the emotional health and well-being of colleagues and employees, we get a clear sense of what is working, what isn’t, and what would make It better,


As a part of my series about about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Leisse Wilcox.

Leisse Wilcox is a Master Success coach who is changing the global conversation on emotional health and self-love.

Interviewed in media including CNN, ABC, CBS, NPR, CTV, Elephant Journal, the Toronto Star, and Thrive Global, Leisse helps high-achieving women courageously embody the vision of themselves they can’t stop dreaming about, and level up their authentic selves.

A passionate (and TEDx) speaker, dynamic thought leader, author, NLP practitioner, top podcast host, cancer survivor, mom of three, and taco enthusiast, her entire experience has been about coming home to her truest self and to call herself “beloved,” knowing intimately that changing the world starts by making the changes we want to see within ourselves first.

Bestselling author of “To Call Myself Beloved: a Story of Hope, Healing, and Coming Home,” you can watch her on Season 2 of Amazon Prime’s The Social Movement and contact her via LeisseWilcox.ca for online courses and to work privately with her.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Sometimes I say it happened by accident — really, I paid attention to and followed all the little winks and nudges we all get, and piece by piece, the fabric of my career wove itself together. I started with a background in education and writing a parenting column for a local newspaper, and gradually that evolved into turning the column into my own online and social media content which prompted women to reach out and ask if I’d coach them. Having navigated many painful transitions in my own life, I backed up my life experience with more and niche coaching programs to better save my clientele. I launched my podcast, published my book, which became a bestseller, and here I am four years later with a robust clientele of celebrity and high profile clients, keen to expand their own notions of success by getting very clear on who they are at the core. Ultimately, inner peace is the ultimate success.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

People reach out more and more via Instagram DM to share with me the impact my content (from video to audio to my book) has had on their lives. It’s incredible. With my private clients I see this in action every single day, and when “strangers” on the internet message me, or stop me on the street to tell me their lives actually feel so positively impacted means so much. That is the point.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

In addition to the constant refinement of my business model to become the highest impact it can be for my clients, I’m working on a second book that has a deep dive on what it means to be “alone.” We add heaps and heaps of fear, shame, dread, discomfort, and sadness on the notion of being alone…which “motivates” too many people to either stay in unhealthy relationships, or to feel completely useless if they’re un-partnered. This book is a reframe on the concept of what it means to be alone, and to reinforce that the single most important relationship of your life is the one you have with yourself.

Ok, lets jump to the main part of our interview. According to this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?

We tend to focus on “success” as a linear model, like a ladder: you go to the right school, meet the right people, get the right job, get the right promotion, earn the right salary, buy the right house…and just keep climbing. It’s like a checklist we just perform: do, achieve, repeat.

This is an antiquated model of thinking, because it focuses only on the measurable outcomes, and completely glosses over how it feels. When we shift our thinking into not what we want to achieve, but how we want to feel, we’re able to choose a path that is in alignment with our values, and our work becomes an expression or extension of who we are and what is important to us.

Making decisions from that place, focused on the quality versus the quantity aspect of work, allows us to feel so much more grounded and whole, as opposed to having a sense of obligation and means-to-an-end.

Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact a) company productivity b) company profitability c) and employee health and wellbeing?

This conversation tends to strike fear in a lot of hearts, as if making decisions based on what would feel good would find an influx of people sitting on a beach, and not a lot of people “doing the work.” It isn’t true, it’s just an intense fear coming up from the idea that we could do this differently.

The irony is that when we make decisions based on how we want to feel (free, respected, included, of service and value, playful…) our wellbeing goes way up.

When we are feeling good — and choosing work we love as opposed to work we feel that icky sense of “should,” ie to make someone else happy or impressed, to prove to someone we are more than they thought we were, to live radically different than our parents did…

…we experience a renewed sense of purpose, which absolutely spills over to the people and environments around us. Productivity goes up, because tasks and actions come from a centred and inspired place, profitability goes up, because we have the right people in the right positions for the right reasons — which necessarily changes our motivations towards our overall company success, and people feel — across the board — more human. They feel seen, heard, enriched, and like they are genuinely making an impact while making an income.

Can you share 5 things that managers and executives should be doing to improve their company work culture? Can you give a personal story or example for each?

  1. Listen, actively. When we focus on the emotional health and well-being of colleagues and employees, we get a clear sense of what is working, what isn’t, and what would make It better,
  2. Beginner’s Mind. There’s a concept borrowed from Buddhism to approach problems as if you aren’t already an expert, and to see it as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Just because we’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t make it “the” way.
  3. Remain teachable. Humans are, at our core, simultaneously drawn to the comfort of routine, and wildly able to adapt. Knowing that everything is fleeting and we are designed to evolve, keeping an open mind as to what we can do differently adds a renewed level of curiosity and exploration to the workplace, which is the breeding grounds for creative impact and change.
  4. Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.There are certain things that look great on paper, and completely flop in implementation. We love systems and order, and we can’t let that cloud our judgement to the fact that we are working with living, breathing humans who are complex and dynamic.
  5. Bring playfulness back. When we’re kids all we want to do is grow up; when we’re grown up all we want to do is go back to being a kid. Again, systems, order, scalability….it can be very useful and impactful. Being mindful that we have a deep desire for playfulness and joy helps to break down the barriers we put up to avoid rejection; playfulness levels out our “humanness” and gives us permission to BE, and in doing so invites our best and most impactful qualities to the table.

It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but it seems like we have to “change the culture regarding work culture”. What can we do as a society to make a broader change in the US workforce’s work culture?

2020 was a masterclass in radical adaptation and questioning the system we’d all come to know. Picasso said ‘every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” It’s pretty safe to say after all the destruction 2020 brought, we are primed to be jettisoned into a new, paradigm shifting, opportunity for creative reinvention.

It starts with why: why are we doing this? Why have we been doing this? Why are we reluctant to try something different?

It moves through how: how do we want this to feel? How do we offer more inclusivity? How can we support the best growth and wellbeing of those in our environments?

And then it confronts obstacles: what is stopping us? Which challenges seem the most daunting? Who do we need to reorganize in order to bring this vision to fruition? If we were able to address each challenge with ease…what would the best case scenario look like?

How would you describe your leadership or management style? Can you give us a few examples?

I like the “backbone” metaphor: I have a strong and supportive sense of structure with a lot of room for flexibility. A lot of my work feels like late-onset parenting, and both form my clients and team members, I offer a strong and supportive framework, within which there is room for bending and flexing to the specific context. That is demonstrated in crystal clear communication of expectations and boundaries at the very beginning of any new relationships, and followed up by walking my own talk to lead by example.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It irks me when I read about the “self made” person; each of us has someone behind us helping to fuel our success, even indirectly (as in someone who was so unsupportive, you were motivated to succeed to spite them). For me, it’s my aunt. She has given me the gift of trusting me to make the right decisions — even if they sound insane at the time, she consistently supports me in trusting my gut to do what’s right…and is there to celebrate when it works, and listen when it doesn’t, helping me get perspective on how I can trust my gut to do the next right thing.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

As a single parent of three girls, my greatest metic of success is being able to sit at our family dinner table knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I showed up with integrity, honesty, and authenticity at every touch point of my business. That subtle but powerful accountability allows me to shift my focus on being of service and making my own income to support our family, while making a genuine impact on the lives of my clients, peers, and family around me.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Know thyself.” Plato.

This entire experience is about coming to know who you are, and acting accordingly. To be free from the stories, narratives, toxic judgements and beliefs, and simply BE continues to bring a level of deep inner peace…which is the ultimate success.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Pausing, breathing, observing the feelings coming up, thinking critically about them. Our feelings are simply feedback, giving us valuable insights as to what still needs to be healed. Having the wherewithal to pause and reflect about where the intensity of our emotions is coming from, identifying what the story is we’re really telling ourselves, and asking if that story is true is the most powerful tool I can share. It is that simple, it is that complicated.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you continued success!

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