The Edges of Lean — Ep 117Continuously Improving Leadership with DEI with Kevin Wayne Johnson

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are words that have become politically charged. Kevin Wayne Johnson is a student of leadership and a leadership coach.  He believes that DEI is a core component of great leadership and that all organizations benefit from leaders who value diversity, understand equity, and practice inclusion.  To me, what he says resonates with the core principles of lean leadership. He joined me at the Edges of Lean to share his experience and his insights with us.  


 Kevin Wayne Johnson


Kevin Wayne Johnson, Founder and CEO of The Johnson Leadership Group, is a powerhouse in leadership development and executive coaching. With over 25 years of diverse experience in administration, leadership, coaching, mentoring, and training, Johnson customizes learning experiences to enhance efficiency, growth, awareness, and effectiveness. He is an 8-time bestselling author. He is also a former Chief of Staff for the United States Department of Defense, Johnson boasts a distinguished 34-year career spanning government and private sectors. He has spearheaded workforce development, organizational change, acquisition/procurement, customer service, and more at the Department of Defense headquarters in Fort Meade, MD. Notably, Johnson’s leadership was pivotal in national initiatives like the National Performance Review for Procurement and Customer Service Reform during the Clinton Administration.


0:03:38 – Kevin Wayne Johnson introduces himself and his career path

0:07:16 – Kevin shares examples of leadership in different cultures and the impact on people

0:10:54 – Discussion on the importance of listening and valuing others’ input as a leader

0:14:32 – Definition and discussion of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)

0:18:10 – The importance of diverse thoughts and opinions in decision-making

0:21:48 – The value of having a diverse team in meetings and decision-making

0:25:26 – Addressing the lack of diversity in a client’s leadership team

0:29:04 – Approaching the conversation about diversity with a client

0:32:42 – The positive response when asking for different perspectives



  • Diverse leadership cultivates innovation and better problem-solving by embracing varied perspectives and backgrounds.
  • Fair treatment and equal opportunities are vital for creating an environment where all individuals can thrive, irrespective of their background.
  • An inclusive environment, where everyone feels valued and heard, boosts morale and productivity by encouraging the best contributions from each person.
  • Leadership with a servant’s heart, characterized by respect, empathy, and compassion, sets a positive example for the team.
  • Actively listening to team members fosters open communication and collaboration, signaling the value placed on their contributions.
  • Embracing inclusive and participatory leadership approaches acknowledges the importance of diverse perspectives over traditional command and control methods.
  • Addressing systemic barriers and biases within organizations is crucial for establishing equitable environments where everyone has an equal chance to succeed.
  • Mentorship and coaching opportunities significantly enhance professional development for individuals starting their careers, aiding them in overcoming challenges effectively.


Memorable Quotes From Kevin Wayne Johnson

“Leadership with a servant’s heart is about matching what we know with what’s in our heart. It’s about demonstrating respect, honor, value, empathy, and compassion as leaders.”


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