Be a Human Leader with Lindsay Kaplan


August 22, 2022



About This Episode

In this week’s episode of Culture by Design, Lindsay Kaplan, head of People Development at Clif Bar joins Timothy R. Clark to talk about anxiety, vulnerability, and what it takes to be a human leader. She advocates for authenticity, empathy, and adaptability as the main characteristics of good leaders and encourages listeners to chase a growth mindset. 

Unique and formative beginnings (4:00). Lindsay has been working since she was sixteen years old, living in an all-female household, surrounded by incredible working females as role models. When she left that environment and launched into the world, she kept her head down and worked until she found the L&D world (which didn’t take long). 

It’s just like the first day of school (13:00). Lindsay compares onboarding to the first day of school. She explains how remote work has impacted the onboarding process for many organizations that can’t quite replicate the way things used to feel. But compensation for these changes isn’t the answer.

Am I committed to being a human leader? (15:15). Lindsay explains what culture means to her (both professionally and individually). She and Tim discuss how human leadership can shape culture in the best ways. But leadership has gotten more complicated. Those of us who committed to being leaders five years ago may need to recommit. Are you willing to be authentic, empathetic, and adaptive?

Not everyone needs to be a people leader (22:00). You can be high-performing and successful without leading others, but in order to do so, organizations need to allow for that growth. Lindsay explains that people should lead humans only when they want to and are good at it. Why can’t other people lead processes, technology, and resources?

Vulnerability in personal and professional life (24:00). Creating spaces for people to come together, share, ask questions, and connect has changed Linsday’s professional life. In her personal life, Lindsay had to learn to let go of fear and ask for help. Acknowledging (and actively sharing) her vulnerabilities welcomed support into her life that she couldn’t have found anywhere else. 

Learning from a growth mindset (33:00). Making mistakes is an act of vulnerability that helps us overcome complacency and actually grow. While making mistakes isn’t “fun,” Tim and Lindsay agree that there’s something exhilarating about it. 

Why am I doing it this way? And concerns about burnout (36:55). Looking forward to the next few months, what is Lindsay excited about? What is she concerned about?

About Our Guest:

Born and raised in California, Lindsay grew up in a household of all women, raised by a single mom. She has worked in many industries, including retail, technology, sales, beauty, and wellness, and discovered Learning and Development when she worked for a start-up in San Francisco. She saw the value of the connection that occurs for new employees when they have a good onboarding program and wanted to help people as they started one of the most vulnerable and exciting moments in their careers. 

Lindsay currently lead People Development at Clif Bar and company where her team’s mantra is to “lay the foundation for what truly matters most; purpose, well-being, and personal/professional growth.” She is a wife and mother of two children, ages five and eight, both of who have probably taught me more about herself and her capacity for growth more than any career moment. 

Lindsay’s goal is to help leaders and employees foster a culture of the psychological safety, inclusion, and growth. At the end of the day, she helps people do their job better while actively adding to a culture of respect and resilience.

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