Leadership with Dr. Steve Yacovelli*

Dr. Steve Yacovelli, known as “The Gay Leadership Dude,” spent 25 years studying and learning and teaching what it takes to be a great leader. From the high seas to the boardroom, from corporate educator to entrepreneur, his life’s work is helping others harness and leverage their leadership abilities. Now he’s using that extensive knowledge to help members of the LGBTQ+ community become leaders in the workplace and beyond.

Yacovelli graduated from Millersville University of Pennsylvania in the early 1990s with a degree in Speech Communications – Public Relations. After college, he tried a few jobs — a short stint working for Walt Disney World taking phone reservations pre-internet, then doing marketing and PR for a small bank, then client education for a small software company — before deciding to pursue a Master’s at The Ohio State University in Leadership. When he received a job offer back in Orlando, Florida, he jumped at the opportunity to return to his designated new home. It proved to be a wise choice in more ways than one.

“I moved to Orlando on a Monday, and Friday I met the man who is now my husband,” he says. The couple has been together for nearly 21 years and still lives in Orlando with their two canine kids, Ella and Russel. After several years working for companies both internal like Disney (again), IBM, The University of Central Florida, and Tupperware, Yacovelli eventually went out on his own and now helps organizations improve performance and learning in the workplace through his firm, TopDog Learning Group, LLC.



Over the course of more than two decades working with top corporations to enhance their workforce, Yacovelli noticed several connections between the traits of effective leaders and traits he sees in many members of the LGBTQ+ community.

His new book, Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ+ Leader to be the King or Queen of their Jungle, combines proven leadership traits and the uniqueness of the LGBTQ+ experience into a powerful guide for the LGBTQ+ community.

“A few years ago, I started to look at LGBTQ+ leaders around me who were just crushing it,” he recalls. “Channeling my inner Carrie Bradshaw [a reference to the “Sex and the City” writer], ‘I couldn’t help but wonder:’ did these LGBTQ+ leaders have a natural tendency to the leadership competencies that I’ve seen ‘make or break’ leaders?”

Very little has been published about the intersection of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and effective leadership competencies; even less research exists in this space. So, Yacovelli set out to fill that knowledge gap with his own research and thought leadership.

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