Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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To Be Seen and Heard!

Last week, we started a new series on organizational culture. And we explored what culture is and why it matters. To bring it closer to home, we also touched on a familiar practice: working out! That was a fun warm-up! You may check out the blog at Your organization has a culture. What is it? – akesatia.com
Today, we will go deeper by delving into a pivotal aspect of organizational cultures that we can all relate to – feeling seen and heard!

Do you see me and hear me?

Beyond question, as humans, we each have an inherent need to feel seen and heard. And in a healthy organizational culture, workers feel seen and heard. Remarkably, we can help those we come in contact with to meet this need. Specifically, leaders can enable this by promoting practices that foster such an environment and discouraging ones that have adverse effects. 

But before we go further, let us address a defining question: What exactly does it mean to feel seen and heard?

As you know, this is more than visual and auditory. It refers to an emotional and psychological state.
But if you’ve heard this phrase often, it might sound like corporate jargon until we make it personal. And the real question is: what is required for me to feel seen and heard? Well, it takes someone making intentional moves to know and acknowledge you. And this is a foundational building block in healthy relationships – professional and personal!

The safety switch!

In an environment where people feel seen and heard, there is safety. – Physical and emotional! And this is beneficial because feeling safe enables someone to be transparent and share openly. – Which also enables them to be known and acknowledged.

Unsurprisingly, most people are not chomping at the bit to reveal their whole selves, including their armoire of fears and insecurities. Because being vulnerable can evoke strong feelings of fright and exposure. – For example, an organizational leader may avoid being vulnerable if they believe they need to appear perfect to garner the respect of their team.
Similarly, workers might choose to project their strengths and hide their flaws. Especially if they believe revealing their weaknesses could hinder their career advancement.

Flip the switch!

Fortunately, there is a lever that a leader can pull to nurture a safe environment. And that is for the leader to share their own mistakes. – This is incredibly powerful! Because when a leader shares their mistakes, they allow people to see and know who they are. – Including their values, fears, hopes, and dreams for the organization. 

Importantly, this fosters closeness within the organization because it enables workers to view the leader as human rather than superhuman. 

However, if the idea of being vulnerable makes you feel antsy, you are not alone. – Indeed, for most of us, the thought of shedding our superwoman cape sounds terrifying! And to quell this fear, it is worth remembering that one does not need to start by sharing their deep insecurities. – Because the goal is for others to know you, not to embarrass yourself. 

If you are still uneasy with this idea, you could take a baby step. Perhaps, start by sharing a childhood fear! For me, a childhood fear is mermaids! I know it sounds wild! But it is a legit fear with an elaborate story behind it. – And that is a story for another time. 😊

Helping others to feel seen and heard.

In addition to being vulnerable, it is also critical for the leader to know their team members personally. – Now, I can see shoulders tensing up at the word: personally! But you can relax because I’m not about to recommend any kumbaya exercises. 😊

A simple way to know your team members is to start by sharing what drives you and encourage others to do the same. And when doing so, it is valuable to remember that some team members might not feel comfortable sharing about themselves. And they should not feel pressured to do so.
Over time, those whose values resonate with the organization and want to plant deep roots there will reveal their whole selves. And when they do, it is valuable for the leader to recognize and acknowledge them. 

Helping others to feel seen and heard takes deliberate effort. And creating a safe organizational environment is no small feat! And the pathway can be steep. But the benefits are invaluable to workers, society, and the bottom line. And it is well worth the effort!


What steps can you take to nurture emotional safety in your organization?
Perhaps share a mistake you made or a misconception you had.
Also, consider sharing the lessons learned because lessons provide additional value to the listener.

For you and to you,



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