10 Monday Mindset Motivators–and All Week Long

10 Monday Mindset Motivators–and All Week Long

To be on the “top of your game” every day, you must have your thought patterns in the right place. Your thoughts turn into feelings with turn into actions and then into your results. 

What kind of mindset could you adopt, to better assure this will be a successful Monday (or any day!)?

  • I will not take myself so seriously. It’s OK to make mistakes; don’t put so much pressure on yourself as to be overwhelmed or in a negative space mentally/emotionally. Say, “This is temporary; there’s light at the end of this tunnel.”
  • I will take a break when I start to feel my energy dip.  “Put yourself in time-out.” You reach points of diminishing returns when you insist on pushing through and being productive when you are on empty.
  • I will stay on top of my goals/priorities. Go into another week/day feeling clear on “the plan” of what you want to accomplish. Make a short list of priorities. Clean off your desk and close your computer tabs, except for materials/resources you will need that relate to those priorities. Don’t waste time; begin ready for the day and focus!
  •  I will not letting my feelings control/define me. Adopt as much of a relaxed/at peace mindset as possible, knowing that you have the ability to take things as they come. Worry is destructive and gets you nowhere fast.
  • I will choose to be positive and solution-oriented.   Assuming good intentions of your family and colleagues puts you in a posture of curiosity and positivity. Choose happiness over the alternatives. You are not a victim and “everything is figure-out-able.”
  • I will not let fear take me down. Even if you have moments of impostor syndrome, you have a reservoir of confidence to tap into, based on your experience and wisdom. Self-talk: “I’m ready to take this on!” and  “I’m making a difference!”
  • I will be proactive vs. reactive. If it’s a task, show initiative and go after it, asking for help along the way. Don’t wait for a fire to be lit around you before you step up. Speak out a creative possibility. Have the difficult conversation before things get worse. Maintain an action mindset.
  • I will do something today to keep growing forward. Make time today and every day to learn, whether it be listening to a podcast while getting ready for work or while working out, carving out time to watch an inspirational video, or picking out a self-leadership book (or technical resource) to dive into. Be a little better today than you were yesterday.
  • I will have faith and hope that things will get better. This anticipation of brighter days pulls you forward into another day/week. A loss of hope leads to depression, which mires you in a pit of despair. Find things to look forward to: hobbies, trips, appointments with people that inspire you, conversations with God, etc.
  • I will put myself in others’ shoes. Everyone experiences hardship in their lives. You have no idea what they are going through. Assume they need encouragement and support—and give it liberally. Empathize with their situation and give grace. When you see things from others’ perspective, it softens yours; together, you might just collaborate to a win-win solution for both of you.

These 10 mindset motivators could be printed up and put on your dashboard, monitor, office door, or journal. Speak them into your life daily to set your intentions for the day. Brighter week ahead!

Want to chat about how coaching might lessen your stress and increase your peace of mind and productivity? Let’s see if the time is right for you. I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org

Enhancing Your Executive Presence (part 2)

Enhancing Your Executive Presence (part 2)

What is EP? Executive presence is a combination of personal traits and outward behaviors that create an image of leadership competence and trustworthiness. Executive presence is how one acts (gravitas), speaks (communication) and looks (appearance). It’s a group of traits and behaviors that starts with you and emanates outward to create a perception of your ability to lead under any circumstance.

I’ve started curating some of the best practical advice on EP. Let’s continue with some tips on how to speak to display executive presence:

  • Listen to understand others’ needs. The first tip isn’t about speaking at all. Use the power of silence. While listening, pay close attention when in conversation with someone, making them feel like the most important person in the world to you right now. To show you are truly in the moment with them, respond to what they just said, and avoid responding with something unrelated–which would give an impression that you are dismissing their opinion or thoughts.  Explore the idea just presented with powerful questions. Show empathy to show you care.
  • Be clear on a vision that you are passionate about and that’s attractive to others. Leaders are always painting a picture of a better tomorrow. That compelling inspiration inspires confidence. You believing your own story comes out loud and clear to your audience.  Suzanne Bates says that leaders with EP have “the ability to engage, align, inspire, and move people to act.”  
  • Think before speaking and be concise. Rambling gets us off-track and gives the appearance we don’t know what we are talking about. And, impulsive reacting often doesn’t turn out well. When you are tempted to react, remember this: “Feel a feeling? Ask a question.” It buys you time to think while the person further explains their argument. Then, before you open your mouth, think, “What’s the most prudent way of saying this?”
  • Eliminate preemptive disclaimers that lower trust in what you are about to say, Phrases like: “I am not an expert, but…” or “This might sound stupid…”  or “I just think that,” “or “I wonder if we should” can be omitted and replaced with more definitive statements and more passionate explanations of your position. You want your audience to view you as credible, and you want to have the ability to persuade (for the benefit of others) and not manipulate (for the benefit of self).
  • Be transparent and humble when admitting to weaknesses and mistakes. No one is drawn to a leader who is covering over their mistakes instead of owning them. Humility is magnetic and builds trust. Each of these tips can be become weaknesses if overdone; so remember to not go to the extreme of always being self-deprecating nor always deferring to everyone else.
  • Employ wit when appropriate. Humor builds bridges and relaxes people with its informality. People who feel comfortable in their own skin can see the humor in themselves and situations more easily, and aren’t afraid to banter and use humor as a way to make their audience feel more comfortable around them.
  • Meaningfully engage with your audience. Often, enhancing your EP starts small with preparing a provacative question in advance of meetings, displaying your preparation for engagement. You can concur with someone’s viewpoint and then add something for the group to think about. When you have an alternate opinion, push back respectfully. Loop in others at the table who haven’t spoken to get their opinions.
  • Always be polite. There is never an excuse to be rude, even if someone has already thrown their dignity to the wind. You will be remembered for how you didn’t stoop to their level, and yet remained respectful under pressure.

Know someone who exudes executive presence? When you think about how they speak, what could you add to my list? Shoot me an email at growingforward@paulcasey.org


8 Ways to Lead Up While Following

8 Ways to Lead Up While Following

You want to be on your boss’s good side to get a great performance review, right? And you want to work “as one” with him/her whenever you are both working on an initiative for your organization. And sometimes, you have some needs that she/he can meet, and you want to make those requests respectfully. That’s called Leading Up.

Here are some actionable tips for getting what you want from your supervisor while also improving the relationship:

  1. Assure your one-to-ones with your supervisor occur regularly. Give him/her feedback on how often you think the frequency needs to be, to stay on the same page. Regular communication typically improves relationships.
  2. In meetings with your boss, have a written agenda. He/she might already have one of these for your meetings, but if not, it’s proactive and intentional to bring one of your own. It also helps you remember the talking points on which you’d like feedback.
  3. Assure that after each discussion topic it is clear who has the action and by when. Often a follow-up email locks in the clarity and gives a chance for any clarification on what plan was decided upon.
  4. When your leader directs you to take an action or asks for your help, display a can-do attitude and find out what would make the outcome most positive in their eyes. Your first “customer” is your leader. Calendar getting that task done ahead of other projects if possible, and be prompt with the follow-up.
  5. In general, keep your supervisor informed of your status and your priorities. Don’t leave her/him wondering what you are up to lately. Be ready for their question, “How can I help?”
  6. Ask for feedback in almost every conversation. Not only does this give your boss a chance to mentor you from his/her experience, but you also better understand expectations. And you get more comfortable asking for and receiving feedback constructively. Say thank-you for when they speak into your life or project.
  7. Show gratitude whenever your leader removes an obstacle or paves a path for you accomplishing one of your goals. And on a regular basis, simply be grateful for all she/he does for the team, and ask how they are doing, followed by the word “really?” This shows you care and can humanize the relationship. Leaders often don’t get much encouragement–only the biggest problems to solve.
  8. Whenever you give input to your supervisor’s decisions, give feedback respectfully. Enter that conversation with phrases like, “What if we…” or “Have you considered….” before making suggestions. If they don’t run with your idea, be gracious.

Which ones resonate with you? You probably have learned some Leading Up lessons yourself. What would you add to make this list to round out “10” tips? Reach out at growingforward@paulcasey.org

6 Reasons to Evaluate When Considering Moving On

6 Reasons to Evaluate When Considering Moving On

You’ve got that restless feeling. Your job doesn’t give you that same positive feeling that it used to. Problems seem to outweigh victories. You have tried to hang in there, but it does seem like thoughts of looking for something new are increasing these days. You need a filter to help you sort out those thoughts, because maybe it’s just COVID or just a “season” of drudgery that WILL have an end and you simply need to have perseverance and ride it out. Other times, it’s time to move on, and you go into planning your exit.

Here are some filters that you can use or modify as a checklist for “should I stay or should I go?“. Maybe you can use it with friends who are wrestling with this issue.

  1. When no longer learning and growing. Yes, your personal growth plan is truly on you, but oftentimes your supervisor no longer gives you stretching assignments that challenge your and push you to the next level. There aren’t enough moments of WOW, it was hard, but I did it, and the organization is better for it. Things have gotten too routine and you find yourself almost bored, complacent and going through the motions.
  2. When you are dreading going to work. A sense of dread usually means the job is not fun anymore. Not that every part of jobs are supposed to be fun. But the positive moments are few and far between, and there’s no excitement to be drawn into. You might be also feeling that you just don’t want to do the draining parts of the job anymore, or you have experienced a long period of burnout, which alters your perspective.
  3. When you ethically can’t buy into the leadership’s vision or practices. This one’s a biggie. You hear of a policy or procedure or a strategic plan that has a lack of alignment with your personal core values, and by staying, you feel complicit with the vision with which you disagree. You have tried to speak up, but your voice didn’t change anything.  Living in dissonance for too long hurts your productivity and starts to cause a bad attitude that you don’t want to model.
  4. When you feel unsupported by management. Each one of us needs a steady dose of encouragement, affirmation, recognition and emotional support. If you are “empty” due to no one above you being your cheerleader/champion, you start to shrivel up like a plant without water.  Being thrown under the bus or being ignored don’t give you hope that it’s going to get any better. You must have trust to thrive.
  5. When the impact that you were hired to do has been accomplished. Here’s a positive one. You can go out on top because you have evaluated what you had set out to do, and you got ‘er done. And others on the team also have seen that you hit a home run. With no clear next step after that finish line, you can look for another race to run.
  6. When a new, long-term opportunity (in line with your values and vision) presents itself. This one may occur in conjunction with one of the other five, but it may happen suddenly and dangle itself in front of you. Think to yourself, “Will this new position allow me to contribute more to an organization, using my strengths and talents?” And, “Looking around my life for a good foundation for a jump, am I ready to take it on?”

I’m hoping that when you play the Pro’s and Con’s game, that you’ll add these criteria to your decision filter. Again, it could be a funk that you need to ride out, controlling what you can control and initiating change, or maybe all the dominoes are lining up for an exit. Either way, you have the power to KGF: Keep Growing Forward.  Need a team-builder for your group, to bring it back to life during COVID restrictions? Let’s talk about a virtual or modified-LIVE team-building experience. I’m at growingforward@paulcasey.org 


A Good Set of Ground Rules for Your Meetings and Retreats

A Good Set of Ground Rules for Your Meetings and Retreats

When I facilitate retreats for organizations and teams, I usually start out by having the group come up with their own ground rules by which to operate with each other throughout the time together. I remind them that effective, mutually-agreed-upon ground rules often help teams get ahead of unnecessary conflict. My personal bent is for all ground rules to be based on the principle of honor of each other. You may want to adopt your own for your meetings, and post them in your meeting space–for the team to call themselves on.

Here are some of the best ones I’ve culminated:

  • Open minds; allow yourself to change your mind
  • Assume positive intent from each participant
  • Actively listen, be curious, validate, and seek first to understand then be understood
  • Tough on ideas, soft on people
  • Everyone participate, no one dominate
  • Focus on people, not phones; choose to be present
  • Respectful words and tone
  • Disagree without being disagreeable
  • Be serious but have fun
  • Think proactive—acknowledge, but don’t dwell on, the past
  • Let go of the outcome; listen for the future to emerge
  • Leave as a united front: said here, stays here
  • Speak your truth without blame or judgment
  • Not “what’s wrong?” but “what’s possible?”
  • What’s one from your team?

Got conflict on your team? Need me to interview the players to find out what’s the root of the problem and how to grow forward? It is a service I offer, and it may push you past the stale mate you are experiencing. Contact me at growingforward@paulcasey.org

Why Boldness is Essential in Your Leadership

Why Boldness is Essential in Your Leadership

Life throws you curve balls and many days you may feel off-kilter. And that may affect your self-confidence or make you tempted to hedge your bets and play it safe. Too much of that fear then casts a shadow on the rest of your team and can negatively spread like a virus. That’s why it’s essential to keep feeding your courage instead of feeding your fear. Fearful leaders are the worst leaders.

Leadership begins with a belief in yourself. Look, you’ve gotten this far in your pursuit of being a leader in your field; that’s already way better than so many people who are all talk and no action. Now you have to project that confidence outward, and watch how others gravitate toward your leadership and influence.

You might be more of an introvert (you replenish by being alone) than an extrovert (replenishing by being with people), and if so, great! Introverts make great leaders, too. But they also must push past any shyness or timidity or hesitation and go for it. Without risk, there is no adventure. You can’t be a great leader without boldness.

When I have observed leaders displaying courage, I have seen them standing up for their values and convictions while risking criticism, ridicule, censure, or some form of persecution. They have been willing to lose it all, on principle alone.  They have taken the unpopular position because they believed at their core that it was the right thing to do. It’s like they have pride in their ambition and their cause, but without the arrogance that is off-putting.  And I’ve watched the admiration of that person move up a few notches by their followers, whether the people agreed with their stance or not. They had guts.

You might not think of yourself as an “executive,” but let me tell you about something called “executive presence”. It’s like the aura that someone has when they walk into a room and command that room with what they say and how they behave that warrants respect. When Scott Elbin interviewed those in the CEO role or those closely working with those CEO’s, he found three common traits of executive presence: Interpersonal engagement, concise and clear speaking, and…you guessed it…confidence! Here are his practical tips (and my commentary) for developing that confidence. It’s like a muscle that you have to exercise.

  1. Know what you want to say. Think about it before you let it come out of your mouth to choose your words carefully. Use the journalism prompts: Who? What? When? Where? Why? And How?
  2. Make it about the organization and not about you. There should be no hint of whining or victim-like complaining. Who doesn’t want to follow someone who is trying to help the whole team?
  3. Have a clear point of view. Do your research and take the time to develop a position, not be blown by the wind and pleasing whoever is in front of you.
  4. Back up your point of view with facts and stories about the impact of the problem.
  5. Offer solutions that are easy to implement and likely to make a difference. Don’t ramble with your strategies. Be able to put your core solution on a Post-it note and articulate it simply.

You have to be patient even when everything inside of you wants to lurch forward with progress toward your goals. Dan Brian says, Patience is really courage that’s meant to test your commitment to your cause….The best leaders understand when to abandon the cause and when to stay the course.” It’s like you vet each idea and plan that you have and decide whether it’s a cul-de-sac concept that would be a waste of time to continue pursuing, or if it’s part of your core vision that you must keep sloshing away at until you accomplish it.

So, embedded in that last paragraph is not just a belief in yourself, but belief in your vision. It’s that vision that is your True North to keep you on track and fighting for what you want to become reality.

Here’s another reason to be courageous in leadership. Your core team needs you to be bold—so that they can also be bolder than they are now. Courage encourages. It begets more courage. Loan your people confidence and watch them stand up straighter and make decisions more assertively. Watch them try new things, see things from different perspectives, and speak up in meetings like they haven’t ever before.

Do you know why else your team needs you to be bold? To weed out bad apples on your team. It takes courage to have the difficult conversation about someone’s poor attitude or unacceptable treatment of customers.  Actually it’s a strength of kindness to tell the truth to someone and lay it all on the line so that they and the business can hopefully grow through it.

Quick words of caution. Be bold, but don’t be rude. To be strong is never equated with being a jerk. No one deserves to be treated that way. Let’s make our business so above-board with how we treat others that critics can’t point a finger at our immature behaviors. Also be bold, but not a bully. Bullies steamroll over their followers to get their own way. No, we are about being strong enough to receive the first arrow in the pursuit of serving others.

Very rarely do people say in their exit interviews or on their deathbeds, “I wish I would’ve been more fearful. I wish I would’ve stayed status quo. I wish I would’ve avoided more risks.” No, it’s normally the opposite. People say that they wish they would have been more courageous and adventurous, more intentional in their decision-making, and gone for the prize they had been dreaming about. I hope you will, too.

To use a football analogy, it’s fourth down and one yard to go, and you are still forty-five yards from the goal line. Do you punt away the opportunity to score a touchdown, or do you go for it? Effective leaders push through their fear and boldly keep moving forward toward the vision.

Have you picked up a copy of my book Leading the Team You’ve Always Wanted? Just 10 bucks, but packed full of 11 inspirational actions to build your dream team. Order today at https://www.paulcasey.org/product/leading-the-team-youve-always-wanted/

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