208-376-1701 bryan@bryanyager.com

First a quote: “Every time you speak, you are auditioning for leadership.” – James Humes

Good morning and happy Monday! Please imagine yourself in one of the two scenarios below:

Scenario #1 – The vice president of your division/business unit/agency has just brought in a new manager from outside the company. That person is about to be introduced as your new boss during a Zoom call this afternoon.

Scenario #2 – You just read on LinkedIn, or perhaps in the WSJ, that your company’s board of directors hired a new CEO/President from a company you didn’t know existed until now. You have been invited to an “all-hands” virtual meeting tomorrow where the new CEO will be introduced.

Take your pick of either scenario, whichever might be closest to your reality. If neither fit, please just use your imagination. You are about to meet a person who has been assigned a title and put in a position of authority and responsibility. You’re about to meet another human being who has the potential to have a significant influence, not only on your company or department, but also on your career and livelihood.

This person has been put in a leadership position on the organizational chart at your firm. (I submit to you that being in a leadership position, and being a leader, are potentially two different things.)

What will you be listening and watching for during that first introduction? What will you personally be paying attention to? What characteristics will you be hoping for, and/or, on the lookout for? What values and characteristics do you hope they will exhibit? Will you feel more, or less, hopeful about your career prospects with this company after the brief introduction is over?

Will Rogers once said:

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

(Talk about high stakes auditions! First impressions, themselves, could be a topic for a future MMM.)

We are all unique individuals, and it is safe to assume the characteristics you personally look for in a leader might be different than what others desire. While the wish list of leader qualities might contain similar traits, they might be prioritized differently by different people.

Based upon my research and experience, I have a hunch most people would be listening and watching for answers to their personal variations of the following questions:

  • Does the new person look and sound like someone I can trust? 
  • What are their values and philosophies? Does their spoken word match their behavior? 
  • Do they sound competent and confident? Do they have the skill set to move us forward? 
  • Is this a person I would follow into a battle? Is this person a “good fit” for me? For our team? 
  • After listening to their introduction, am I more, or less, hopeful about the future? 
  • Is this person who they claim to be? Are they authentic?

Now I would like to invite you out of the realm of my made-up scenarios and get personal with you for just a minute. Here is a different set of questions for you to consider:
Are you:

  • in a relationship with other people, professionally and personally? (Of course, you are!) 
  • in a management role, or hope to be promoted into one? 
  • joining a team, department, or taking on a new role? 
  • in a sales position? Do you call on prospective clients? 
  • on a team, or work with other people in a group setting? 
  • taking classes in school or college where you interact with other people?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then I suggest you are continually auditioning, and you might not even be aware you are on a never-ending metaphorical stage.

I suspect we all know how critically important first impressions are, but that is not my intended focus this morning. My point is that all of us are almost always on stage and, people are almost always watching, listening, observing, and assessing us. I’m fond of saying, “As leaders, we are always on stage… even when we’re not on stage.”

Why Words Can Speak Louder Than Actions in Leadership (Inc. Magazine article by Maya Hu-Chan)

Perhaps the following quote by Maya Angelou best summarizes my intended message today:

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

Following is a short list of behaviors I am recommitting to this coming week. I Invite you to join me.
I will:

  • not gossip, start, or spread rumors. 
  • make every effort to “walk my talk.” 
  • ask others for feedback to learn where my behavior may not match my intentions. 
  • not say anything about anyone in their absence, that I wouldn’t also say in their presence. 
  • not post anything about a person I would not say to them in person. 
  • work to make sure my words and actions are authentic, genuine, and congruent. 
  • fact-check any social media post prior to “liking,” sharing, or forwarding. 
  • be a person who builds others up, not tears them down. 
  • be solution focused. Be a source of hope. 
  • work to demonstrate the power of collaboration, positivity, and good will. 
  • serve others. Make a positive difference in the life of least one person. 
  • remember that as humans, we are perfectly imperfect. 
  • recognize that others will make mistakes; as will I! 
  • forgive myself, and others, for past mistakes. 
  • do my best to be my best.

Click here to read the poem: “Just for Today” – author unknown.  (This was from my very first Monday Morning Minute, published three years ago this week! Happy Anniversary!)

Closing today the way I opened, with the wisdom of James Humes:

“Every time you speak, you are auditioning for leadership.” 

We are almost always, on stage! What you do and say matters! What you post and share matters!

How will you live, love, or lead better this coming week?

I would welcome your reaction to this week’s MMM missive. This 5-question “radio-button style” survey is intended to be completed in less than 90 seconds. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HGCSYSD  


Bryan Yager
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”

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Bonus Quotes:

  • “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou 
  • “First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes.” – Elliott Adams 
  • The art of communication is the language of leadership” – James Humes 
  • “Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions… by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions.” – Malcolm Gladwell 
  • “A good first impression can work wonders.” – J. K. Rowling 
  • “Two things remain irretrievable: time and a first impression.” – Cynthia Ozick 
  • “You only get one chance to make a good first impression, and yours may be in the hands of the receptionist.” – Harvey Mackay 
  • “If people are failing, they look inept. If people are succeeding, they look strong and good and competent. That’s the ‘halo effect.’ Your first impression of a thing sets up your subsequent beliefs. If the company looks inept to you, you may assume everything else they do is inept.” – Daniel Kahneman 
  • “Each of us is full of too many wheels, screws and valves to permit us to judge one another on a first impression, or by two or three external signs.” – Anton Chekhov