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SocialTalent Author Spotlight: Debbie Danon

Welcome to our new spotlight series, where we introduce you to some of the incredible authors on the SocialTalent learning platform. With over 100 experts delivering quality content on all areas of workplace excellence, we pride ourselves on having a faculty that are not only heavily experienced in their respective fields, but are also engaging instructors from a diverse set of backgrounds.

Today, we’re going to meet the amazing Debbie Danon. Founder of Rebel Leadership, Debbie is a renowned Leadership Coach, Facilitator, and Inclusion Expert.


Q. Can you give us some background information about your experience and history within this field?

I specialise in training and coaching leaders of change to create inclusive cultures of flourishing and high-performance for their teams. 

The clients I work with are so varied – you’ll find them at international corporates, in NGOs driving social change, and in start-ups and scale-ups disrupting industries. What brings them together is a belief that they themselves, and the world of work, CAN and SHOULD be more authentic, balanced and courageous than it is today.

I prefer to say I help create ‘counter-cultures’ rather than ‘cultures’, because my work is built on the recognition that the current dominant norms around us about performance, success, power, and privilege are not set up for us all to flourish. 

The working world was broadly designed after the Industrial Revolution by and for white, straight, cis, middle-to-upper class, non-disabled men without caring responsibilities. And while it really doesn’t work for those of us who deviate from those norms – in lots of ways, despite having the lion’s share of the power, it doesn’t work for folks with those identities either. So much of our humanity and capacity for emergence has been squashed out by warped paradigms of linearity, productivity, and efficiency.

So if we’re to flourish while driving positive change in this world, and enable others to do the same – we’re going to have to be rebels about it!

My framework of Rebel Leadership helps clients practice acts of Rebel Authenticity, Rebel Balance and Rebel Courage, enabling them to break free of limiting internalised beliefs and to reimagine systems and structures that are actually hampering their team’s capacity for flourishing. It’s a pleasure to see those lightbulb moments – ‘Oh! It doesn’t need to be this way!’ 

Inclusion, equity, and awareness of systemic oppression is woven into everything I do. All my work is supported by a deep understanding of somatics (body work) and anti-oppressive practice.

Whether in training or coaching, I support my clients to harness their strengths, respond to personal and interpersonal complexity, and drive sustainable social change – in their workplace, and/or in their mission.

Debbie was a guest on our podcast! Check out her episode about boundary setting and the inner critic here:

Q. What are you working on right now?

I’m currently enjoying working systemically with a whole Senior Management Team of a union – first 1:1, and now in-person as a team. It’s amazing to see how they’re maximising their strengths, setting boundaries with each other, overcoming their limiting beliefs, and together making new sense of problems that felt intractable before. 

I’m also delivering a Rebel Leadership Mastermind with the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion champions of an international music company, supporting them to develop the awareness, mindsets and skills they need to design inclusion and equity into the organisation. They’re an unbelievably inspiring group of people. This work takes commitment, vulnerability, and accountability, which is a tall order on top of your day job. And yet, every time we meet they share how they’re putting their learnings into practice, even when they’re afraid of getting it wrong. To me, that’s Rebel Courage.

I also have a new free mini-course – ‘Wellbeing Reclaimed’ – which is a taster of my Rebel Balance work that helps leaders sustainably prioritise wellbeing, both their own, and their team’s.

Alongside my business Rebel Leadership, I’m working as Faculty of COVN Collective, a community that supports women to create the lives they truly desire, and the world we all deserve. This work is suitably rebellious, too.

Q. Can you give us a detailed overview of what your content covers?

I’ve designed two courses for SocialTalent – Boundary-setting for Managers & Leaders, and Settling the Inner Critic. 

As managers, our time, energy, attention are our most precious resources. If we don’t learn to protect them, it can leave us unfocused, depleted and even burnt out. On the plus side, if we learn to steward our resources well through identifying and setting clear boundaries, we can cultivate high-performance that’s grounded in genuine well-being. 

In my Boundaries Mission, I lay out what boundaries are; why setting them is essential for your thriving as a leader; and practical ways to start setting boundaries – first with yourself, then with others. 

Taking it a step further, I show you how to build a team culture where boundaries are shared and respected, so that you and your team can support each other to deliver sustainably at your high-performing best, without needing to sacrifice your mental and physical health.

When it comes to the Inner Critic, we may be onto our own Inner Critic’s antics, hijacking our system when we feel exposed, like when we make a mistake or get constructive feedback. It may be all the more active if we live life at intersections of marginalisation, where experiences of discrimination, gaslighting or undermining might add fuel to the Critic’s fire. 

But just think – as a leader, every member of your team also has an Inner Critic doing its thing. And they may or may not have the tools or self-awareness to settle it – leading to all kinds of things from defensiveness to taking offense, from disengagement to poor mental health. So how can you support them to flourish and overcome the Inner Critic’s tricks?

My mission helps you first understand your own Inner Critic – what it is, why it does what it does, and practical techniques to settle it – and then how to build a team with the capacity to recognise and settle Inner Critic attacks.

Q. Why is this an important topic of study right now?

I can think of  a few reasons:

  • The default working culture in most organisations isn’t set up for us to flourish. COVID uncovered this in a big way, but we’re only at the start of questioning and rebelling against inherited norms. Setting boundaries (including saying – shock horror! – no to colleagues) and having vulnerable conversations about the Inner Critic are rebel moves to make the workplace healthier, safer and more authentic all round.
  • There is lots written about boundaries and the Inner Critic for individuals. But taking this learning to a team level has the power to amplify the learning and transformation exponentially. Imagine if everyone in your team felt equipped and enabled to set boundaries, and to negotiate workloads even across power dynamics. Imagine how much easier giving feedback would become if everyone was aware of how defensiveness arises from the Inner Critic, and what to do about it. Powerful, eh?
  • We need to do better at supporting managers and leaders with their mental health. In 2019 IPSOS Mori found that managers were more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health condition than non-managers. Gallup has found since COVID, managers in ‘the squeezed middle’ have suffered most from burnout. My hope is these courses can be a resource and a reassurance to managers who carry so much on their shoulders, and help them feel less alone.

Q. Where can people find you?

Connect with me on LinkedIn, I’m really active there. And follow Rebel Leadership with Debbie Danon too!

You can check out my website and blog for more insights, and to receive practical tips to help you lead with Authenticity, Balance and Courage every Friday morning, sign up to my Rebel Reframes newsletter here.

And finally, here’s a link to get free access to my brand new Wellbeing Reclaimed video session:

Interested to see how Debbie’s content could help your team? Get in-touch with SocialTalent today.

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