Connection Point October New Sound Waves 1

In the People Business: A Q&A With Rita Bailey

Monday, October 26, 2020

Rita Bailey is the founder of Up to Something and specializes in disrupting and challenging leaders in unconventional ways. Prior to her keynote session, Bailey spoke with Connection Point about her background and experience and what she’ll share with ATD Virtual Conference: Unleash Potential attendees.

Your concise tagline is that you are in the “people business.” Why did you choose that, and why is it important to you?

My joy comes from seeing others succeed. I help leaders create cultures, environments, and practices where people can flourish. I help people who know what they want to accomplish but need guidance, support, and resources to reach their goals. I personally believe that the reason we all exist is to serve.

What do you hope ATD Virtual Conference participants walk away with after listening to your keynote?

I hope that participants walk away realizing that it’s the person, not the title, that determines true leadership and that leaders maximize their ability to influence from a place of courage versus command. That often means being vulnerable and demonstrating humility and empathy. While fundamental leadership skills are necessary to operate the business, people are the primary driver for success. I hope participants will be inspired, curious, and mindful about the type of leader they personally strive to be and how they can help develop others.

Leaders are being asked to really push outside their comfort zones now with so many crises coming at them. What’s the most important thing they can do now to keep their organization and employees productive and engaged?


People need to be open-minded and emotionally aware. They need to listen to understand and be vulnerable and transparent. During times of crisis and confusion, it is extremely important to communicate a clear vision of where the organization is going and the what and why rationale behind all decisions.

What or who has been your greatest teacher for your professional and personal success?

Professionally, I was fortunate to serve under Herb Kelleher’s leadership for 25 years at Southwest Airlines. He inspired and unleashed potential in everyone in the organization. I not only learned but experienced servant leadership.


Personally, I give honor to my mother for her tough unconditional love and support and for reinforcing foundational values and beliefs that have served as my North Star.

What is one action TD professionals can take right now to unleash potential?

Challenge the status quo!

Share your ATD Virtual Conference experience on social media. #ATDVirtualConference

About the Author

Connection Point is the daily news source written by ATD staff for the ATD Virtual Conference, relaying news, session coverage, and other updates.

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