Subject: Do you know how to build your tribe?

Coach and author Leah Dean shares her formula for leadership success.

February 2022 | Issue 45

Leah JM Dean

Author, leadership coach and entrepreneur Leah Dean will offer her expertise at AWL's Virtual Mentor Series event, 3-4 p.m. Eastern, Feb. 17. Register today!

“Some leaders are born and others are cultivated," says Leah JM Dean. "And in the end, it’s really about how we choose to show up and engage that defines how great we are.” 

In her experience, a truly God-led leader must first become comfortable listening for and hearing His voice, says the Bermuda-based author, executive coach, leadership strategist and entrepreneur. For Dean, that meant allowing God to steer her away from the career she’d planned out of college as an insurance underwriter and instead pursue human resources. She would become the chief human resources officer of a global company before hearing God again say it was time for a shift.

“In 2017, God had told me, 'listen, you’re going to use everything that you know and all the experiences that you have to help women,' ” Dean says. “That’s the leadership space that I want you in.”

At that time she had already begun writing her book, Assemble the Tribe, which shares "a mindset shift that comes from unlocking a simple formula … that really impacts the way we choose to show up in our relationships,” Dean says. 

In 2019, she left her corporate job after 20 years to spend time with her family and finish the book. Its release was the first step in establishing her company, Conduit International Limited, which provides coaching and leadership programs for executives, leaders and women. Dean also speaks on various topics related to leadership, tribe building, inclusion and delivering business results. 

“We first have to believe that we matter, we have purpose.”

Most people think of "tribe" as the people closest to them, the easy relationships. To understand why it's so important, we must redefine what tribe is and what it is not. Through her research, which includes the story of Christ, Dean offers this definition:

Individually complex people with shared beliefs, values, or interests who choose to come together in various ways to create relationships.  

When a leader understands the concept of a tribe, the tribe will enjoy their work environment, Dean says. Beyond that "we get things done."

A leader is then responsible for tribe building to create strong bonds with and for those under her direction.

Dean offers this tribe-building formula: BELIEVE + BELONG = BE DIFFERENT

Believe: "We first have to believe that we matter, we have purpose," Dean says. "As leaders, we're always going to be growing and so we should never confuse our value with our growth."

Leaders also need to recognize each team member's unique value and unleash their greatness through clarity of purpose, accountability and support.

What is a tribe?

Leah JM Dean uses the words complex, choose and create intentionally in her definition of tribe. Here's why:

  1. We are COMPLEX. We are all layered. We need to give each other a certain amount of grace.

  2. We must CHOOSE. The success or failure of our relationships require us to make intentional choices every day.

  3. We can CREATE. Great relationships may not be easy. We have to create them. "Anything worth having takes work, and our relationships are no exception," Dean says.

Free quiz

Leah JM Dean offers a free resource to help you assess your tribe health. Click here to take the quiz. You can also receive a free sample of her book, Assemble Your Tribe.

Belong: "As leaders, we also have to be intentional about the type of environment that we create in our teams," Dean says. "We need to create spaces where people can belong and experience belonging because we are better together than we are on our own."

Be Different: "Every day, we have to show up with this mindset that permeates every aspect of what we do," she says. "We have to be open to new relationships and take steps to thrive in the relationships that we have. We can't let the words that we speak be disqualified by the patterns of our leadership."

— Michele Joseph, managing editor, Adventist Women Leaders newsletter

Introducing the AWL Virtual Mentor Series

Adventist Women Leaders is launching a new resource for women leaders in 2022. It's called the AWL Virtual Mentor Series and will address topics women suggested in our survey and discussion groups.

"We asked women leaders to share best practices, lessons learned, and how to effectively do everything from chairing a board, to building and leading teams to having difficult conversations, to finding your voice when you're the only woman at the table," says Celeste Ryan Blyden, AWL chair. "We've all been there, so let's come together and help each other through."

The series will begin Feb. 17 at 3 p.m. Eastern, with executive leadership coach Leah JM Dean who will talk about the value and benefits of assembling your tribe. What is a tribe? Who is a tribe? And why does every woman leader need one?

"The AWL Virtual Mentor Series will be a blessing because it focuses on one of the most crucial building blocks of leadership," says AWL Committee Member Brenda Dickerson. "Mentoring and being mentored is something women leaders benefit from during every stage of our careers."

To stay informed about upcoming topics and meeting dates, check the AWL newsletter, website, Facebook and Instagram pages. 

To suggest topics, email us at

— Michele Joseph, managing editor, Adventist Women Leaders newsletter

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Rosa Parks

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Celebrate the Achievements of Women Leaders

Naomi Booia was appointed secretary of the Kiribati Mission.

Dr. Monica Sudeall-Hawkins was appointed an assistant vice president at Oakwood University.

Jenean Lendor was elected communication director for Lake Region Conference.

Let’s celebrate God’s work and blessings in the lives of Adventist Women Leaders. Please share links to articles and social media posts announcing promotions, honors and achievements that we can share in this newsletter. Email info to


"Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always." 

1 Chronicles 16:8-11, NIV

AWL's Prayer Circle

LaTasha Hewitt

Communication Director

Allegheny East Conference
Pine Forge, PA

Nancy Buxton

Women's Ministries Director

Mid-America Union

Lincoln, NE

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AWL is a community of women affirming, encouraging and celebrating God's goodness to those He has called to lead.

AWL Committee: Wendy Eberhardt, committee advisor; Celeste Ryan Blyden, founder/chair; Brenda Dickerson, Carolyn R. Forrest, Tamyra Horst, Ann Roda and Michele Joseph, communication manager

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