Creating a Safe Space for Young Professionals to Thrive, with Julia Hart

One of the biggest challenges for modern-day leaders is to find and engage top talent. On this episode, executive coach and communication professional Julia Hart reflects on how leaders can neutralize their power and create a safe space for their youngest employees to speak up and give their best.

Julia has worked in corporates including Philips, AkzoNobel and Liberty Global for more than 25 years. Last year, she published her first book ‘Insider Secrets', which is packed with interesting insights and practical tips to help young professionals succeed in a corporate environment. This includes navigating office politics, dealing with your manager and, most importantly, dealing with yourself.

“A good leader who can delegate power is able to see the whole person that’s sitting across from them and able to understand what the whole person needs in order to accept the power and do something great with it.”

- Julia Hart

This episode consists of two parts that each cater to a different target audience. Part one focuses on what young professionals can do to survive the corporate meeting madness, while part two puts more emphasis on leaders and how they can create better meetings to help their top talent thrive.

Whether you are a young professional or a leader, I would encourage you to listen to the entire episode to get familiar with the perspective of those people on the opposite ends of their careers and the hierarchical ladder. In the end, power in meetings is the ability to shift perspectives and put yourself in the other person’s shoes.


Show Notes:


0:35 – Julia’s motivation to write ‘Insider Secrets’

2:33 – What Julia struggled with in the early years of her career

3:34 – Tips for introverts to succeed in an extroverted environment

6:31 – How young professionals, especially women, tend to give people a reason not to listen to them

11:01 – Why you should stop running from meeting to meeting

12:17 – How to survive the corporate meeting madness

14:51 – Young professionals tend to have difficulty adapting to hierarchical organizations  

20:30 – Using the meta mirror exercise to help young professionals look through someone else’s lenses and deal more effectively with power


26:31 – What leaders can do to take their power out of the room 

30:00– The positive effect of neutralizing power on the less powerful

32:46 – Julia reflecting on her own experiences of powerplay in meetings and the long-term negative impact on an organization’s culture

36:02 – Using power productively to move meetings forward and reach decisions

38:17 – An example of productive power: creating rules to allow everyone to speak up 

40:02 – The role of power in coaching conversations 

41:17 – What coaches can do to neutralize their (expert) power  

46:09 – Warren Buffet gets it: power starts before you enter the room

48:02 – What leaders can do to make the lives of young professionals easier 

50:39 – How Julia helps leaders manage their empathy deficit

52:59 – Final question, with inspiration from Dave Stachowiak 

Links to people, books and resources mentioned in this episode:

- The website of Julia’s coaching practice, a link to her book ‘Insider Secrets’ (also available in Dutch) and her profile on LinkedIn and Twitter.

- The excellent podcast Coaching for Leaders, hosted by Dave Stachowiak, which I highly recommend for leaders who want to learn and grow.

- ‘The Power Paradox’ by Dacher Keltner via UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Keltner’s book explores the empathy deficit among powerful people and strategies on how to deal with it.

- Atul Gawande talks about creating psychological safety among hospital staff via Farnam Street’s ‘The Knowledge Project’ podcast.

- The recent Financial Times interview with legendary investor Warren Buffett.


If you enjoyed this episode of the Meeting Strategist podcast, you might also like these:

- Ep. 08 – How to Close the Power Gap in Meetings, with Marcel van de Hoef

- Ep. 04 – Exploring the Unsaid: Deep Listening, with Oscar Trimboli

- Ep. 03 – Football, Hot Tea and Trust: Meeting Without Agenda, with Maarten Oldenhof

To relive the episode, here are a few key quotes from Julia Hart:

“I think we can all get caught up in this treadmill of meetings. And once you’re in it, you’re almost acting a bit like a zombie going from meeting to meeting.” 

“We can waste so much time if we don’t plan a strategy for a meeting”

“We are all incredibly self-focused even if we don’t like to admit it.”

“Coaching is about creating the safe space”

“It’s about […] deconstructing what could be a barrier for them […] and putting the power in their hands through questions and very active listening.”

“You can indeed […] take the power out of the equation by having the meeting start as people are coming in or arriving at the office and finishing the meeting only when you have walked the corridor together or gotten out of the lift together.”