Learn More About Megan Reitz
How can leaders enable employees to talk about organizational problems so they can be addressed? How can they invite employees to challenge and offer ideas to stay agile and innovative? And in an age of employee activism, how can leaders ensure that people of diverse backgrounds and value systems can work well together?
According to Megan Reitz (pronounced RATES), professor of leadership and dialogue at Ashridge Executive Education at Hult Business School, leaders must create psychologically safe environments where people feel it is safe to speak up without fear of retribution.
An executive coach, researcher and author of the book “Speak Up: Say What Needs to be Said and Hear What Needs to be Heard” (Financial Times Publishing, July 2019), Reitz helps leaders become more aware of their “conversational habits” — what they speak up about and what they don’t, whose voices they listen to and whose they discount. Through a deeper understanding of power dynamics, leaders are able to spot how and when they (often inadvertently) silence others. They become more able to create a culture where employees can safely and openly share ideas. As a result, leaders get the feedback they need about what’s really happening in their organizations and teams end up communicating, collaborating and innovating more effectively.
“It takes courage to speak your mind to a person in power,” says Reitz who was named in 2021 among the top 50 management thinkers in the world by Thinkers50. “But equally, if you are the person in power, it takes enormous humility and skill to be able to invite, then listen.” Her enlightening TEDxHultAshridge talk, “How Your Power Silences Truth,” artfully explains how leaders can strike a balance between guiding and being guided by the people they oversee. Her practical frameworks for promoting psychological safety help organizations address issues around trust, ethics, diversity, equity and inclusion, and communication – especially in remote or hybrid workplaces where many cues can get lost.
Ranked among HR Magazine’s Most Influential Thinkers and author of “Mind Time: How Ten Mindful Minutes Can Enhance Your Work, Health and Happiness” (Harper Thorsons, 2018), Reitz’s research also explores the neuroscience of leadership and the links between mindfulness and leadership capacities for the 21st century.
“Leaders who are more mindful have the capacity to pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment,” says Reitz. “They are more aware of themselves, others and the world around them. This allows them to respond appropriately rather than react without thinking.” Reitz’s stress-reducing mindfulness practices offer executives a powerful opportunity to become more resilient, empathetic and focused leaders. They also provide tools for disrupting conversational habits that do not serve them or their teams.
Reitz emphasizes that speaking up is a two-way street. Leaders who are mindful of the signals they send can counteract the traps of silencing by opening up dialogue before the employee has to ‘be courageous’ in order to speak up. Her work is particularly urgent right now as remote and hybrid work settings require leaders to be more proactive about listening to employees and inviting in their thoughts. Her win-win approach allows organizations to learn what employees are thinking and where problems may be hidden, while offering employees the comfort of working for a leader who is more relatable, approachable and open-minded. Her focus is on enabling organizational dialogue in order to sustain more ethical, compassionate and productive workplaces where employees can flourish.
Megan Reitz is Professor of Leadership and Dialogue at Ashridge Executive Education, Hult Business School where her research, speaking and executive education programs focus on change, dialogue and mindfulness. She is on the Thinkers50 radar of global business thinkers and was ranked among HR Magazine‘s Most Influential Thinkers of 2019. In 2021, Reitz was shortlisted for the Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award, which celebrates a eureka moment in management thinking.
Before joining Ashridge, Reitz was a consultant with Deloitte, surfed the dot-com boom with boo.com and worked in strategy consulting for The Kalchas Group, now the strategic arm of Computer Science Corporation. She was educated at Cambridge University and has a PhD from Cranfield School of Management. She is an accredited executive coach with Ashridge and The School of Coaching.
Megan Reitz is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®
Leading in an Age of Employee Activism
Increasingly, employees are starting challenging conversations with management: “So, what’s our policy on Black Lives Matter, gender equity, climate change, human rights in our supply chain?” Some leaders respond by saying their organization is apolitical, or they hand off hard-to-avoid issues to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) managers. Worse, they don’t respond at all. Silencing employees works against organizations in a number of ways. Two big drawbacks: employees may not reveal hidden problems which can grow, or they may end up leaving if the values of the organization do not align with their own, explains Megan Reitz, professor of leadership and dialogue at Hult International Business School, and co-author of the acclaimed book “Speak Up: Say What Needs to be Said and Hear What Needs to be Heard.” In this talk, she shares her research-backed framework which helps leaders become aware of their responses to employee activism and serves as a playbook for proactively and thoughtfully engaging with employees. Leaders come away with a stronger ability to navigate power differences and transform their workplace cultures. As a result, employees are more likely to openly communicate, and leaders are able to find out what’s really going on in their organization and harness much-needed ideas for tackling the ‘wicked’ business, social and environmental challenges that now face us.
Fostering Psychological Safety in the Workplace
How can leaders foster a culture where employees feel free to speak up about workplace concerns without fear of retribution? How can employees be encouraged to challenge conventional thinking and offer new ideas so teams can remain agile and innovative? And how can organizations both avoid scandal and facilitate overall healthy corporate cultures? A renowned expert on leadership and dialogue, Hult International Business School professor Megan Reitz teaches leaders that having a psychologically safe culture requires them to notice their own habits and be mindful of the signals they’re sending which may be deliberately or inadvertently silencing others. In this presentation, Reitz shares evidence-based communication tools leaders can use to encourage employees to speak up and ensure all voices are heard so vital knowledge and innovative ideas can be regularly exchanged.
Speaking Truth to Power: Encouraging Open Dialogue
Many employees have a burning desire to voice their opinions regarding important organizational changes, yet companies may not have a culture that encourages them to do so. When leaders become aware of the link between leadership and mindfulness, says Hult International Business School professor Megan Reitz, space for speaking truth to power is born. In this presentation based on her engaging TEDxHultAshridge talk, Reitz teaches leaders how to navigate power differences and transform their workplace cultures so employees feel free to openly communicate.
The Power of Mindful Leadership
What role does mindfulness play in leadership? Hult International Business School Professor Megan Reitz’s research shows that mindfulness opens doors for leaders to become more “present,” enabling them to respond rather than react to circumstances, which in turn builds resilience, improves focus, and allows them to become better listeners and decision makers. Based on her book “Mind Time,” Reitz teaches participants tools for becoming more present, mindful, less stressed, and more effective leaders who are viewed as more approachable and relatable.
Diversity and Inclusion: Inviting in New Ideas and Building Awareness Around Biases
How can leaders do their part to mitigate biases among their employees and also become aware of their own unconscious biases? Hult International Business School Professor Megan Reitz helps leaders and employees understand how they unconsciously “label” both themselves and others, and how those labels convey different levels of status and authority depending on context. In this talk, she explains how such a dynamic affects the broader conversation around voice and inclusion. She then shares tools for building sensitivity and awareness so everyone in an organization feels seen, heard and included – and, as a result, more satisfied, engaged and productive.
Employee Activism (Audio)
November 1, 2022
How to Help People Speak Truth to Power (Audio)
October 2, 2022
How to Develop a Speak-Up Culture (Audio)
September 20, 2022
Two Faces of Belonging…Possession and Affiliation At Work
August 30, 2022
What If… We All Told the Truth at Work?
July 27, 2022
HR Magazine Most Influential 2022: Megan Reitz
June 18, 2022
A Culture of Listening Up & Speaking Up (Audio)
May 19, 2022
Leading in an Age of Employee Activism (Audio)
February 28, 2022
Leaders Need to Stop Silencing Their People
February 4, 2022
How Leaders Can Respond to Increasing Employee Activism
January 28, 2022
Leading in an Age of Employee Activism
January 19, 2022
Don’t Ban “Politics” at Work
July 7, 2021
What Leaders Gain When Employees Speak Up
June 22, 2021
Embracing Employee Activism is Good for Business
June 1, 2021
Creating a Speak Up Culture
May 7, 2021
What is Your Response to Employee Activism? Part One
April 29, 2021
HR’s Role in Employee Activism
March 29, 2021
The Wrong Way to Respond to Employee Activism
February 26, 2021
The Art of Not Shutting Up But Speaking Up
December 3, 2020
Not Being Able to Speak at Work Can Cost Lives
November 12, 2020
Why Your Team Should Practice Collective Mindfulness
August 19, 2020
Is Menopause a Taboo in Your Organization?
February 4, 2020
Managers, You’re More Intimidating Than You Think
July 18, 2019
Do You Have “Advantage Blindness”?
April 10, 2018
The Problem with Saying “My Door Is Always Open”
March 9, 2017
How to Bring Mindfulness to Your Company’s Leadership
December 1, 2016
Speak Up: Say What Needs to be Said and Hear What Needs to be Heard
(Financial Times Publishing, 2019)
Mind Time: How Ten Mindful Minutes Can Enhance Your Work, Health and Happiness
(Harper Thorsons, 2018)
Dialogue in Organizations: Developing Relational Leadership
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)
Megan Reitz, professor of leadership and dialogue at Hult International Business School, and co-author of the acclaimed book “Speak Up: Say What Needs to be Said and Hear What Needs to be Heard,” is a highly sought-after speaker, advisor and educator. She helps leaders in every sector become more aware of their “conversational habits” — what they speak up about and what they don’t, whose voices they listen to and whose they discount. Through a deeper understanding of power dynamics, leaders are better able to create a culture where employees can safely and openly share ideas. As a result, leaders get the feedback they need about what’s really happening in their organizations and teams end up communicating, collaborating and innovating more effectively. Reitz’s research-backed framework serves as a playbook for proactively and thoughtfully engaging with employees. During virtual or in-person advisory meetings or executive education workshops, Reitz can cover any or all of the following topics which can be customized to meet the needs of your organization and the size of your audience.
- Improving Innovation, Agility and Collaboration
- Transforming Workplace Culture
- Addressing Employee Activism
- Strengthening Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs
- Becoming a Leader Who Listens
- Reducing Employee Turnover
- Making Spaces for Differences
- Encouraging Employees to Speak Up
- Examining Conversational Habits
- Uncovering and Addressing Hidden Organizational Problems
- Supporting Employees by Giving Them a Voice
“Megan, transformational changes in our leadership culture were catalysed by you and your approach to open our leaders’ thinking, and challenging their perspectives helped us to elevate their self-awareness and reinforce their commitment to make things better. For this, we will always be grateful to you. On a personal note, I wish to tell you that I learned much from you and I am continually inspired by your work and example.”
Praise for “Speak Up”
“A powerful book on an important topic. ‘Speak Up’ helps us understand the subtle elements that contribute to our holding back valuable ideas and observations. Their TRUTH framework – which is as practical as it is rigorous – identifies essential elements to help individuals find their voice.”