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Humanize your leadership: Gerardo Segat

Michael Hunter


Welcome to Uncommon Leadership.

I’m Michael Hunter, with Uncommon Teams.

Today I’m talking with Gerardo Segat.

Gerardo is an international leadership coach whose purpose and legacy is to humanize leadership. Following a wealth of experiences as entrepreneur, chairman and CEO, Gerardo has used his leadership background to create Preludes, a coaching program created to humanize leaders, organizations, and their stakeholders through creative and powerful original experiences (such as decision-making debates, client interaction models, and emotions-focused team meetings).

Currently, Gerardo is working on Out As Humans, a performing arts show designed to humanize authentic leaders. Out as Humans is an individual and group immersive performance that creates a space for leaders to be open, trusting, empathetic, and feel a sense of belonging.

Welcome. Gerardo.

Gerardo Segat

Thank you, Michael.


In your journey to seeing people as people and learning to leverage their unique gifts to best accomplish your goals, when did you first recognize this might be a valuable approach?


It must have been about fifteen years ago.

I was the founder and CEO (chief executive officer) of a multifamily office organization, and I was meeting a friend of a friend.

In the company, we were recruiting an asset manager, and I met this guy. He was a journalist.

After I met with him, I was coming back home and I thought, “This would be the perfect guy as an asset manager.”

We actually ended up recruiting him, a journalist, for an asset manager position, and he became one of the best resources in the group.


What was it about your conversation with this person that shifted your perspective from, “He’s just a journalist?” To, “Yes, he’s a journalist, and he would be a great asset manager. We need him on our team.”


I didn’t know he was a journalist, actually.

Starting with a blank page somehow allowed me to think, “This could be a great person for that position.”

The absence of any kind of influence that somehow labels the person.


In this case, you happened to have the perfect absence of information that lets you get into that openness to possibilities. How can we achieve that openness when we don’t start out with that blank page?


Following that episode, I started having recruiting interviews without having a look at the CV (curriculum vitae). Somebody asked, the head of HR (human resources) was looking at the CV proposing.

It is just a way everybody can find his own way.

My way was to look at the CV and go straight into the interview and have a conversation with a person.

It’s something that you actually decide to do or not to do.


Consciously deciding to set aside everything we think we know, and allowing ourselves to discover what actually is there.


Assume you don’t know is probably the best.


Because we probably don’t.


Because we probably don’t.

But also because the key is really to understand what the magic within that person, or any person is.


How do you find that magic?


You find that magic when you have a conversation where you allow the person to be fully connected with his or her own human being.

When you have a human conversation with a person, then you have a chance to understand where the magic of that person lies.


How do you initiate that humanness in the conversation?


From the questions that you ask the person.

If you talk about, let’s say, vulnerability.

And you lead the conversation by example. That’s very important.

In any scenario, in a company or even in a recruiting interview, if you show yourself human, the other person will show human.

Leading by example is very important because, from my perspective and my experience, people are looking forward to find themselves into safe situations, safe scenarios where they can be themselves. A company, a group, a work position, a recruiting interview, anywhere.


Work, especially, often doesn’t feel like a safe place to do this. How do you help groups, executives, boards turn that feeling from a, “This is not, no way am I going to be open and vulnerable here,” to, “I’m actually safe to be open and vulnerable with these people I see every day.”


They need to somehow taste it, experience it.

That’s done through example, either management in the company or an event, a speaker.

One of the things I do, one of the experiences of Prelude is a speech given to board of directors about vulnerability.

Every time is an incredible and amazing human experience.

People share the most intimate fragilities just after half an hour of their meeting.

They come in the meeting, they don’t even say hello, and just after half an hour, they’re crying, hugging each other.

Give the chance to the people and make them taste. Then they will realize the way they feel.

If they are able to choose to go that way, they’ll also realize what’s the impact on their performance.


What impact on performance do you see after you give this amazing half-hour speech, the board is all hugging and celebrating each other, and then you leave the room, they go back to their jobs. How do you help them sustain that connection?


That’s the company decision in doing that.

If the company decides that the culture places human connection at the center, then it’s a recurring solicitation that people get to open up to openness, to psychological safety, to cohesion, to sense of belonging, to all of that. That is the way.

Gradually, they get to see the effects on their performance.

From my experience, leaders who are deeply authentic and who are connected with themselves, with their own human being, and with other human beings, that connection has a radical effect on their performance and on their behavior.

Mainly radical positivity, radical humanity, and radical clarity.

Leaders who are deeply connected always look at the bright side of things, of events, of anything happening, even the worst thing, the most negative thing.

They have strong human skills, what we call soft skills.

I call them human skills.

Empathy, gratitude, servancy, all of that.

They have an amazing clarity.

Because of that clarity, they are able to create magical spaces, such as able to identify win-win situations, win-win solutions, or impossible-to-possible scenarios.


If I, as a leader in my organization, start to see the effects of this, and I want to amplify those effects and that effectiveness, what’s a good way for me to help that continue to grow?


It is by looking at every single detailed process in the company and thinking, “How do I make it human?”

How do I make, for example, reporting to board of directors human?

How do I make every single process in the company, how do I make a meeting human?

It’s really to ask yourself, “How do I make it human?”


Whatever that humanity means to me.


It means creating a scenario whereby people don’t need to wear masks. People can be themselves.


That can be pretty scary, to take off the mask that we’ve worn for maybe our entire career. How can I, as a leader, help my team and myself feel a little more comfortable taking those masks off for even this particular meeting?


First of all, let me tell you one thing.

I think deep authenticity and human connection are contagious and available, accessible, more than what you can think.

The key is creating that safe space, and you do that leading by example.

If you are vulnerable, if you are human, if you are connected, then people, gradually, everyone, at his own speed, will more and more be vulnerable, be human, be authentic.

You have to keep on doing that.

One of the effective ways that I’ve seen doing it is by having regular meetings, team meetings, where people on the team share updates about some of the key areas in the business and personal, and where they don’t simply share events, but they actually share the emotional impact of that event.

It can be negative or positive.

If people start talking emotions, which is our original language, then gradually more and more they will open up and they will be more authentic and they will be more vulnerable.


As the leader, I can model this by, one of the people on team talks about something that happened and then I can say, “Thank you team person. I’m super excited to hear this because…and the impact that has on me,” and continuing doing this for each person as they go around.

Everything that someone brings up, I can vocalize the impact that’s had on me.

That helps everyone see then that talking about emotions, bringing up the impact that the experiences are having on them, is safe as well.


The most important rule, especially when you are starting something like this in a company, is to have a nonjudgmental approach.

Instead of giving advice, instead of judging whatever is coming out from the other person, it’s always suggested and important that people maybe share their similar experience or share whatever the person shared really is triggered in terms of something they remember or a similar experience they’ve shared.

That’s a very important approach, especially at the beginning, whilst people are getting used to be more human and share more emotions.


When people on the team are not so excited about experiencing emotions, like is the case of many that people in software I work with tell me, “I went into software so I don’t have to deal with emotions, Michael,” how can we mitigate the impact of sharing our emotions with a team on them so that they can feel safe enough to stay present there in the meeting, even though I’m bringing up these emotions that they may not be so comfortable hearing about?


There isn’t really a best approach.

It depends on the people, on yourself, and on the people you have around, having that air and have that sensitivity, sensibility to understand which direction and how far you can go is important.

What I’ve seen working quite effectively is that before actually doing that, you say what you are going to do and what’s the purpose of this and what is the reason of that, what we are trying to achieve.

You say that whatever you do might actually impact in that way.

You preinform the person that you’re going to do it, what is the reason, what you’re trying to achieve, and what eventually might have as a negative impact on them.

That is often a way for this not to happen.

Then once you do it, because you have actually informed the people, then people consider this.

They say, “Here is a guy who cares, who cares about me. And so I’m going to give you something.”

You’ll see that step by step.

Then you get a little bit, people will open a little bit and more and more and more and more.


I like that a lot.

Kind of sneaking in, “Hey, I’m about to impact you emotionally,” by telling them that we’re going to impact them emotionally, which in itself is going to impact them emotionally.

We give them a taste of what’s to come by telling them what’s to come.

That opens them up maybe just the tiniest bit, which then helps the bigger thing about to come to land a little more softly.



It’s a technique that comes from the coaching practice.

In coaching, often when you have a client and you need to challenge that client, it is common practice.

This is what they advise you to do, is say it before that you’re going to be hard on them.

So, when you are actually hard on them, it’s okay.

You take that into vulnerability, it’s exactly the same thing.

Somehow, whatever mechanism is a defense, if you prewarn the person, there is no reason to have defense that high.


You still have defense, but you know it. So people low down with the defense and therefore allow more to come.


That’s a great tool. Thank you, Gerardo.


You’re welcome.


We started our conversation today with when you first recognized that seeing people as people and learning to leverage the unique gifts to best accomplish your goals might be a valuable approach. Do you have a story of sometime recent that has reinforced that, “Oh, yeah, this is really the best way forward.”


Because I decided to start this new project about the show, I exposed myself into a completely new scenario, new industry, new way of thinking, of doing, which is the theater.

Somehow, theater is very different from business.

Business tends to close.

Theater tends to open.

I’ve been working to put together a team to work on this project. An acting coach, a producer, a script writer, actors, dancers, musicians, people from different kinds of arts, artistic people.

For me, it was completely new.

Trying to understand and trying to somehow lead that team to produce, to make the show was something completely new. Starting from zero.

We are used to maybe recognize business skills, and here, the business skills are not relevant, other skills are relevant.

Going into a new field has really reinforced this to me to say that the magic, the talents that people have are not necessarily only business. They can be artistic or something completely different.


Now I have this vision of you leading a troupe of twenty, fifty, all these different artistic-type people with dragging along lights and microphones and all this other stuff showing up at the top floor, outside the CEO’s office, the board of directors’ conference room and the assistant or whoever’s meeting you, not knowing, being totally flabbergasted. Here you are for a serious business meeting with fifty people who are laughing and joking and maybe don’t look like the executives all are used to each other looking like.

Is that what it’s like? Or how does it work when you bring the show into a company or a board of directors?


It depends. Sometimes it is an external location, sometimes it is in the office, in one of the rooms.

The whole team and the whole sonography, we built it up in a way that it’s movable, it’s easy, it’s flexible.

It’s unbelievable.

I tell you, there are so many aspects in a show. Sound, the visual, the light, the script, the scene, and adapt to; it’s a continuous uncertainty.

If you’re really struggling with uncertainty, that’s the best, because you go there, you don’t know. You have to adapt this. You adapt the script, you adapt the sound. Continuous adaptation.

In a world that is incredibly human-connected, artistic world, there’s an incredible human connection.

I may think I am connected, but when I actually approach this project, I see people.

For them, what I thought was my most intimate fragility for them is nothing.

I went beyond that.

It’s amazing.

It’s an amazing thing.

The response from the companies, somehow, because it is a performing arts show, it is something; people are ready, when they go and watch a show, somehow it takes the defense down low, because it’s heart, and therefore heart.

They’re ready to challenge themselves, to give themselves, to open up and not to have defense.

When I decided to do that, I wanted to do something like that instead of giving a speech or instead of writing a book.

It widens, it opens up the people.

Art opens up the people.


Art opens up the heart.


Yes, you may say so.

Or opens up and brings up the heart of people.


If I would like to bring this into my organization, how do I get started?


Well, you can contact me.

I’m on LinkedIn,

Or you can visit my website, There’s a post section about connections.

You have possibility to connect by email. You can write me an email.


Thank you. I’ll have those links in the show notes.

What else should I ask you today, Gerardo?


Well, you may ask me one piece of advice to any leaders listening to your podcast. And/or you may ask me, what’s the most important leadership skill of the future, in my opinion. In my humble opinion.


Let’s combine those together and say, what advice would you give to a leader who wants to best set themselves up to continue leading uncommonly in the next ten, twenty years?


I’m going to combine the answer.

I would recommend any leader to go on an inner journey to develop and train self-awareness.

Awareness, not only self, it can be naturally awareness in general, nature of your body, of somebody else, of yourself.

Awareness is the leadership skill of the future, especially because of AI (artificial intelligence).

Go on an inner journey and find the four inner treasures of a leader, which are meaning in what you do in your life, love, freedom, and certainty.


Thank you.

You may have just answered this: what would you like to leave our audience with today?


What I would like to leave is an experience.

In my show, there is a moment where we talk about soul.

What I would like to do is a little experience, if you allow me, for a couple of minutes.

Stop doing whatever you’re doing. If you are running, if you are reading, cooking, whatever you’re doing, stop for a second.

If you need to pause me, pause, and then play it again.

I want you to experience what I call connection with your inner human being, instead of giving you a definition.

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine your soul takes flight. It flies in the air, free. It goes wherever you want. It flies. It’s flying.

Where does it land?


And when your soul takes flight, Gerardo, where does it land?


It lands on the top of a mountain with a lot of snow. That’s because I love helicopter skiing.


Thank you for that.


You’re welcome.


Lovely experience.

Audience, thank you for joining Gerardo and me today.

Please let us know: where does your soul land when it takes flight? We’d love to hear.

Thank you and have a great day.

Thanks for joining us on Uncommon Leadership today.

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