The People Leader Imperative: Re-thinking what it means to lead

Companies tell us they want people to bring their whole selves to work, but leaders aren’t quite set up to accept, support and lead the whole human beings on their team. To add, leaders aren’t assessed, let alone rewarded, to do so. 

Yet, the data continues to show that happier, more engaged people perform better, are more productive, are less absent and less likely to leave their company. 

In this episode, Dan Pontefract, renowned leadership strategist, author and keynote speaker, calls on leaders to create a better mix of work and life factors to support their teams through the different seasons of their work and personal lives. This way, leaders and teams can thrive and bloom. 

In our conversation, Dan shares the following insights: 

  • Leadership is increasingly impacted by the societal and personal pressures affecting people today.
    “There’s a palpable increase in stress, anxiety, burnout, loneliness and isolation. I don’t believe that we as leaders are actually paying enough attention to these societal factors.” 
  • We can’t disconnect our work self and our life self, and leaders need to be sure they’re considering both when leading teams. 
    “Work and life are inseparable puzzle pieces. People can’t completely check all that’s going on in their life at the door when they’re at work. So if you’re a leader you should be thinking about your people as holistic human beings and look at their well-being, their connections, their skills, their sense of meaning, do they feel respected, are the organizational norms here normal, etc. And, ask yourself what you need to do to help people see that you’re there to care about them as a whole human beings.”
  • Human centered leadership requires understanding where people are in their life and supporting them through it, rather than penalizing them for it. 
    “People’s lives are cyclical and they can fit into one of four quadrants: blooming, budding, renewal and stunted. We know that people aren’t at their best at times because of these cycles and seasons. So this model and this way of thinking can be a way for leaders to appreciate when people are on the downs and be able to offer them some tools to support them through the stage.” 
  • Unlocking human potential and caring for your employees can be learned.  
    “You can always teach people to be better human beings, ergo leaders can learn and develop the muscle of what it means to be a more holistic, wholesome, empathic type of leader. There are certain large chasms to cross for certain individuals. There are others that are just genuinely awesome human beings, and typically, this type of leadership comes naturally to them. But this is learned, and you can get better even if these skills are or are not innate to you.” 
  • Leaders have the tools to support their teams through the seasons of work and life, it’s a matter of knowing when to push and when to stand on the sidelines.
    “When you lead a team, presumably, you’ve been there before and you’ve got some experiences that can help your team from a work side. For the life side, there’s a point in which we want leaders to know they don’t want to go too far. You can stay on the periphery of it and just say, alright, let me know how I can help. But that doesn’t mean you wait a year to ask again, you’re sort of checking in regularly to make sure the balance isn’t off.” 

Check out Dan’s latest book:

Learn more about Dan and his work at

Meet Dan Pontefract

Dan Pontefract is a renowned leadership strategist, author, and keynote speaker with over two decades of experience in senior executive roles at companies such as SAP, TELUS, and Business Objects. Since then, he has worked with organizations worldwide, including Salesforce, Amgen, the State of Tennessee, Nestlé, Canada Post, Autodesk, BMO, the Government of Canada, Manulife, Nutrien, and the City of Toronto, among others.

As an award-winning and best-selling author, Dan has written five books: WORK-LIFE BLOOM, LEAD. CARE. WIN., OPEN TO THINK, THE PURPOSE EFFECT, and FLAT ARMY. Dan also writes for Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and other outlets.

Dan is a renowned keynote speaker who has presented at four TED events and has delivered over 600 keynotes . He is an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business and has received over 25 industry, individual, and book awards.

Dan’s career is interwoven with corporate and academic experience, coupled with an MBA, B.Ed, and multiple industry certifications and awards. Notably, Dan is listed on the Thinkers50 Radar, HR Weekly’s 100 Most Influential People in HR, PeopleHum’s Top 200 Thought Leaders to Follow, and Inc. Magazine’s Top 100 Leadership Speakers.

Learn more about Dan at his website: 


TILTCO is a boutique consulting company that helps leaders define and execute their strategies in order to achieve extraordinary business and personal results. Founded by Tineke Keesmaat, she brings her more than 20 years of leadership consulting experience rooted at McKinsey & Company and Accenture to supports today’s leaders achieve exceptional results.