Conscious Leadership with Catherine Allen on the Hearts Unleashed Podcast 

This month, our founder and CIO Catherine Allen joined Abigail Gazda of Hearts Unleashed to discuss the importance of incorporating employee development into organizational growth, emphasizing the concept of conscious capitalism and leadership coaching. The conversation touched on the evolving nature of leadership and organizational culture, stressing the need for a shift in priorities in the workplace to prioritize employee growth and development. Creating an environment that fosters growth, well-being, and safety for all employees is paramount, and there is a strong role for the workplace to play in cultivating human growth and development.  

Both Catherine and Abigail are leaders who understand the importance of living with passion and purpose, with Catherine emphasizing the significance of contribution and impact, regardless of title or position. Read the abridged transcript or listen to the full podcast here

Abigail Gazda: Welcome to the Hearts Unleashed Podcast! I’m excited to introduce Catherine Allen, co-founder and CIO of AO People Partners, a leadership coaching and consulting firm. Catherine, it’s great to have you here. 

Catherine Allen: Thank you, Abigail. It’s a pleasure to be here. 

Abigail Gazda: Let’s dive right in. Can you tell us about your book? 

Catherine Allen: Sure. It’s titled Conscious, Capable, and Ready to Contribute: How Employee Development Can Become the Highest Form of Social Contribution

Abigail Gazda: I love that. Your work focuses on conscious capitalism and leadership. How does AO People Partners contribute to these concepts? 

Catherine Allen: We believe everyone should grow to their highest potential in supportive environments. At AO People Partners, we help leaders understand how to own, model, and drive their leadership to benefit both the business and individual careers, contributing to the community. 

Abigail Gazda: What kind of organizations do you work with? 

Catherine Allen: We typically work with mid-sized companies, around 50 to 3000 employees, across various industries. Our focus is on leaders who are committed to their own development and the development of their teams. 

Abigail Gazda: How do you see the trend towards conscious leadership evolving? 

Catherine Allen: The 21st century has seen an increased expectation for leaders to operate with higher cognitive, emotional, and social intelligence. Employees today seek opportunities to learn and grow in environments that nurture their well-being and capabilities. 

Abigail Gazda: It’s interesting to see how priorities have shifted. How can individuals contribute to their company culture, especially those at the ground level? 

Catherine Allen: Employees should ask for and expect development opportunities. Embrace a growth mindset, be eager to learn, and communicate your needs with your employer. 

Abigail Gazda: What does “developing people” mean at AO People Partners? 

Catherine Allen: It means taking a strategic approach to integrating learning and growth into daily work. It’s about creating environments where people can practice and develop interpersonal and leadership skills continuously. 

Abigail Gazda: How do we stay passionate about our work? 

Catherine Allen: Recommit to your purpose daily. Ask yourself how you can serve and uplift others. This practice keeps you motivated and connected to your mission. 

Abigail Gazda: That’s valuable advice. Remembering our core values and purpose can help us push through even the monotonous tasks. Thank you for sharing your insights, Catherine. 


Embrace the opportunity to grow your brand and reputation as a company that truly invests in helping employees grow their capabilities – even and especially during an employee off boarding experience. When viewed through the development lens, this is a valuable opportunity for employers to learn and improve organizational and people development practices, build brand ambassadors, and enable departing employees to reflect on gains in skills and capabilities.


Facilitate strategic conversations with senior leaders to explore and define ways conscious people development can be integrated into the culture and daily workflow to power your business, your people, and your employer brand. 


Incorporate learning and development objectives into retention activities to prepare employees for new roles and opportunities. This can be done through engagement and feedback surveys, recognition and rewards programs, promotion, succession planning, and more.

Social Contribution

“Build it so they will want to come, flourish, and stay, knowing that someday they may leave.

Thus, it is imperative to define what you want them to say about their growth experience with your organization and what you want the outside world to say about how you invest in and contribute capable people to society.”

-Ed Offterdinger & Catherine Allen
Conscious, Capable, and Ready to Contribute. (p. 173)

Integrated Capability Development and Performance Management

Integrate learning, growth, and capability development goals and activities into your performance management rather than relying on day-to-day responsibilities alone to create a more engaging, productive, and helpful process.


Adapt onboarding to set new hires up for success in a continuous learning environment through orientation activities that introduce the principles and practices that support everyday learning and development for each employee.


Integrate practices, principles, and tools to better evaluate a candidate’s orientation to continuous learning and development as a factor in their overall fit for a position. This provides:

  • Improved candidate interviewing, assessment and selection practices
  • Better candidate selections with learning and growth mindset
  • An early introduction to your company’s development culture focus


Embed messages about commitment to people development to attract your ideal candidates.