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Belonging Rules

Five Crucial Actions That Build Unity and Foster Performance

BELONGING RULES empowers leaders to bravely approach the challenge of fostering belonging in their organizations, equipping them with five rules for promoting unity, acceptance, and performance. My firm’s decade-long research demonstrates that belonging matters more than employees’ perceptions of organizational culture or strategy for promoting employee engagement, positivity, satisfaction, and performance. Unless leaders invest their energy, time and resources instilling a culture of belonging, they risk losing their most precious resource, their people.

To help leaders create the space necessary for belonging, there are basic research-backed principles that I have found, the Belonging Rules. These are 5 things that leaders and contributors at every level of an organization must consider each and every time they make decisions for themselves, their people, their group, and their company.

In a business defined by wins, football requires an unmatched level of understanding and teamwork. Belonging Rules fearlessly drives the kind of change leaders are not only looking for but demanding. It is a must-have leadership playbook.”

D. Cal McNair

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Houston Texans

As a global business that opens the world to people and experiences, belonging is at the center of all we do. The important concepts in the book help to bring diverse people together while celebrating their differences and unique cultures.”

Lisa Lutoff-Perlo

Former CEO, Celebrity Cruises and Vice Chair, Royal Caribbean Group

Brad Deutser brilliantly captures this universal human need to belong; why we need it and how to make space for it. A genuine and compelling concept, and the tangible steps to translate it into action.”

Marissa Orr

Former Google & Facebook executive, and bestselling author of Lean Out

In Belonging Rules, Brad Deutser shines a light on what I consider to be one of the most important predictors of long-term success at organizations: belonging . . . This book highlighting belonging, authenticity, and vulnerability is at the intersection of so many crucial issues at work, at home, and in our society.”

Shawn Achor

New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage and Big Potential

I would urge leaders in business to implement Belonging Rules—Brad has done the work and has incredible insights to share.”

Richard J. Reddick, EdD

Senior Vice Provost for Curriculum and Enrollment and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, The University of Texas at Austin

Belonging Rules will help us reach a better understanding of not only ourselves, but of the teams, the missions, and the causes of which we are a part. Because at the end of the day, most of us just want to feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves.”

Nate Boyer

US Army Green Beret, former NFL player, and Cofounder, Merging Vets and Players


I define belonging as where we hold space for something of shared importance: it is where we come together on values, purpose, and identity; it is a space of acceptance where agreement is not required, but a shared framework is understood; where there is an invitation into the space; it is an intentional choice to take part in; and vital to a sense of connection, security, and acceptance.


We have all been in situations where we didn’t feel called in, or when we left someone else on the outs. In our own ways, we have been told, “you don’t belong here.” We all want to find our place in the world, to feel connected to a group or cause greater than ourselves. After a pandemic that left us lonely and craving connection, organizational leaders are in search for something to better inspire and align their people. That is belonging.

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Belonging Rules gives leaders the tools, knowledge, and confidence to harness belonging to address the workplace’s most critical challenges.

Breaking Through

There are many diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) books and viewpoints out there, and this book takes an intentionally different approach to not only inclusion, but leadership by positioning belonging as a larger and more significant, fundamentally human, need. This book takes the narrative further by placing individual leadership and organizational identity at the heart of what continues as an imperative.

Based On Science

This book, supported by research studies, interviews with leaders working in real time through the most pressing, socially charged, and political issues, as well as insider access to successful leaders in high profile companies and institutions, will give leaders at every level not only the permission, but the backbone and tools to redesign the basics of leading in any environment to incorporate today’s business essential, belonging.

Real-life Exercises

Our goal is to challenge you with concepts and original exercises we’ve used to train thousands of leaders, as well as probing questions and insights designed to embolden the leader to address the new fundamentals of self-direction, interconnectedness, and success. Together, the lessons and stories in this book conclusively demonstrate that success is incumbent on a leader’s ability to build the capacity for belonging.

Brad Deutser

Brad Deutser is known for coaching and leading leaders through his company, Deutser, an innovative consultancy that designs a human approach to change. Brad works where most people feel uncomfortable and try to avoid. He is known for actively seeking out challenging and charged environments, as well as societal and politically sensitive ones.

Creating spaces for belonging and initiating constructs to expand leadership in a more human, connective way has been the focus of his work for decades.

Brad’s clients and coaching take him to amazing places — in athletics, aviation, education, entertainment, energy, finance, healthcare, non-profit — with incredibly thoughtful leaders around the world. He takes on the most high-level challenges forging through them with creativity and grace to design and bring to life the most original solutions.

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Download the Introduction

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