Leadership Between the Lines

Dare to Stay Engaged through a Positive Mindset!

I was on a flight from NYC to Chicago a couple of weeks ago and sat next to a gentleman who'd worked for a large financial firm on Wall Street. He was now without a job and exploring options. As I spoke with this guy, what struck me was his attitude. He was looking at this "horrible" situation, one that was stressful and would have a large impact on his family (including a possible relocation), as an opportunity to re-assess and "start over." He said, "I've been so caught up in all of this for so many years, in many ways I've lost sight of what's most important and what I really want to be doing. While I'm not loving this; I'm scared and uncomfortable, I'm secretly excited about what's to come. I feel I have a fresh start." Hmmmm. Different mindset, wouldn't you say? And one that was already serving him greatly. (Do you ever notice the kind of intimate conversations you can have with perfect strangers at 33,000 feet?)

Another client of mine, a female business leader, shared that this is one of the most stressful times she's ever experienced in her firm, but in many ways one of the most rewarding. How is this possible? She's working her mindset - she's checking her thoughts - she's looking for the gifts and seeing how she and her team can be more efficient, more competitive and simply better. The result? A more focused and bonded team, creative and cutting edge offerings and solutions for clients, and an even higher level of joyful appreciation for closing deals and connecting with clients. Again, mindset. And not just her's, it's her team's and her organization's - they're picking up the peices from layoffs and budget cuts, identifying their edges, and finding the gifts. They're "leaning in."

See the themes? This is good news. What's even cooler is that all of this mindset stuff - is contagious. (If you don't want to catch it, stop reading now.)

Here's the thing, there's no doubt that sometimes the "wheels come off the wagon," things get tough and we need to "reset" in areas of our business and personal lives. Of course. It's life, we're human. AND with these events, there is also tremendous opportunity to come out better than ever, and to actually find joy in the process. It's a choice, and it comes down to mindset.

It doesn't mean tough stuff isn't happening or that we go into "pollyanna mode" to get through it. It means we consciously watch our thoughts, check our mindset and find productive solutions and opportunities from what happens. It means we take extra good care of ourselves. Not always easy, but so important (not only for yourself, but for your mission, and those you lead.)

As a leader in your company, you set the tone. It does not matter what your official "role" in leadership is - every single person in the organization has the ability and opportunity to lead. So whether you are senior leadership or entry level and you're reading this, know that your leadership and mindset is contributing to setting the tone. (Think about the implications of that. This isn't about waiting for others to lead or set the tone - it's about taking full ownership, right now, to set the tone by modeling leadership and "being the change you want to see.") Your mindset, outlook and attitude are your greatest assets and they're contagious. There's an opportunity here. It's an opportunity to be better, more streamlined, refined, and ambitious than ever. It's an opportunity to reconnect with that sense of mission, vision, and people. It's the opportunity to create a better place - internally, externally, at work and at home. Yes, it will take perseverance, devotion and some work - of course. But here's the thing --- it starts HERE NOW in your head - in your heart - in your "being" - and with your mindset. You start the change internally, and then it manifests externally.

How to do this?

Here are some ways to address staying engaged, "on your edge," and mindset. Pick the one(s) that resonate for you and work them. I challenge you to do this now, as you read. Don't read and then just think about it (thinking you'll revisit), I dare you to actually take the time to put something down on paper (post its are fine) and commit to one thing that will support you in this area.

1. Extreme self care. For you to be your most effective self, to be on your cutting edge, and to think clearly - what do you need? What kind of self-care do you want to engage in to help set yourself up to be the best instrument of change possible? How can you increase your energy, stamina and vitality? What boundaries may you want to initiate? What practices may you want to engage? This is something you can decide for yourself, I can make suggestions, but what's important here is that it resonates for you, and you feel good doing it. Commit to some kind of self-care starting TODAY. Right now, what are you going to do to treat yourself extra well? Mind, body and soul? This can be a commitment to clean eating, exercise, making a list of 25 things you LOVE to do (and then doing at least 2 of them a day - the "25 things to do" exercise is from Jack Canfield, by the way), body work, dance, skin care, white space, a weekend away, etc. Whatever works for you, make self-care a priority, pull it to the front; you, your organization and the people around you will benefit. (If you would like more information on more ways to do this, check out our "Engage Your Inner H.E.R.O." Product or "Lead Your Energy" Paper - both address self-care and its impact on leadership.)

2. Stay on your edge. LEARN. This is not the time to hide or wait. Lean in and learn all you can. Make yourself better, stronger, more aware. Check your mindset and beliefs (see next week's article.) You don't have to spend a ton of money to do it - buy a book, take an afternoon to ask yourself the BIG questions, take a class, work with a coach, purchase a self study program. Do it individually, do it as a team. But do it. (The new DTE Power Pack Program is a resource we can help you with here.)

3. Be grateful. What do you have in your life right now that you are grateful for? What's happening in your business, with your team, with your spouse, your kids? Did you take a shower today? Get a workout in? Eat a good meal? Do you have a business you care about deeply? Clients? Capture 5 things a day you are grateful for - FEEL the gratitude, express it, write it down. To me, gratitude is the QUICKEST mindset shifter I've ever experienced (that or a huge loss or tragedy and I prefer gratitude any day!)

4. Acknowledge. A close cousin to gratitude. What's your team going through right now? How are they showing up? Who are they "being" in the face of challenge and unknown outcomes? How can you be more helpful to them?

5. Make a plan. Nothing breeds greater clarity and a sigh of relief like actually making a plan. Whatever your current situation is - what's your plan? Doesn't have to be perfect - just jot down some next steps, get into action, and be awake in the process so you know when you need to make a left turn or switch gears.

6. Mission & Vision. Why are you in business? Why does your company exist? What's the impact you want to have? What's the overall vision here? Do you remember? Do you have one? Are you clear on where you're going? Individually, as a team? What are your shared values that will get you there? You can have more than one vision, for different areas of your life, but if you don't have at least one - it's going to be hard to get there. Having a mission, vision and shared values can pull you through times of adversity (and make it more fun in the process which in my opinion is a really good thing.)

7. Work with your team. Talk about what's going on. Be open about it. Invite them into the conversation. Tell the truth (be aware of and response-able for your impact here.) Brainstorm solutions. Give them ownership for creating solutions that will help you move through challenges together.

8. Develop yourself and your people - NOW. Now is the time to take advantage of some of the space you may have in your schedules and bandwidth to actually develop the people in your company. It may seem counterintuitive, but it can provide you with a stronger foundation so that when things pick up or more challenges arise, you're all better armed for it. There are a couple of ways I look at this: 1) Develop them while there's time, energy and bandwidth, 2) Give them something to focus on together that will move them forward in the long run and help them be better leaders, salespeople, designers, human beings, communicators, etc. Whatever the case, give them tools, resources and space to do so. Not only will it help them and make them feel seen and appreciated, it will strengthen your own bottom line, 3) Now is a great time to inspire people to lead, take initiative and grow themselves. It inspires people to be better at working with each other. Gives them common language and purpose, and invites them to step into a bigger place. When morale could take a huge dive, giving people the tools and resources to better themselves will boost morale and result in a higher level of personal ownership for your company's outcomes. BTW, you don't have to do this alone, and it doesn't have to break the bank.

9. Take advantage of down time. What are the things that you've been wanting to do, but haven't had the time? Now's the time to do them. Notice if you resist this one. Notice it. What are you really resisting?

10. Need a vacation? Some space, some time to clear your head and get strategic? Go.

So there are 10 things you could start doing today that will help you move through this recession and the challenges of your business and life in a more peaceful, productive and engaging way. You'll notice there is action in here to ground it and make it real - but really - all of these stem from mindset and finding opportunity for moving forward.

To make this concrete now:
1. Pick one, two or three. What are you committing to doing? For yourself, your business, your team?
2. Identify what needs to happen next and by when. ("Next 3 steps" is always good!)
3. What support will you need? (Accountability? A buddy? A coach?) Who will you need to engage? How do you want to be held accountable?
4. What impact do you INTEND making this commitment will have? (THIS IS SO IMPORTANT.)
5. How will you know you're getting your intended impact?
So go for it. Jot it down now. Take 10 minutes. You'll be so glad you did.

Ready? Set? Go!