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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #77: Excuse Me, Your Attitude is Showing

March 3, 2020
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #77: Excuse Me, Your Attitude is Showing

Attitude can be a difference-maker for you and your business, but it can often be a blind spot for leaders. In Episode #77 of our Executive Leadership Podcast, we explore some of the triggers that can affect attitude and what leaders can do to improve their attitude, as well as encourage a positive attitude amongst their team. 

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Read Transcript Below:

Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to drive remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator, and coach, and I’m Chris Goede, Vice President with the John Maxwell Company. Welcome, and thank you for joining.

Just as a reminder, please visit if you would love to leave a comment or a question for us. If you want to learn more about the 5 Levels of Leadership public workshops that we have coming up in 2020 or if you want to maybe even have a private workshop and have Perry come onsite. Well, yeah, live in person, which it’s funny. Let me stop real quick. So I was on, I was on a call the other day with a client and we were talking to them and my schedule changed and I was going to go speak to a company and couldn’t do it. And I said, but listen man, I want to, I have an incredible bench of executive facilitators and coaches and so I know Perry Holley is available and he’d love to do it. She goes, you mean the other voice on the podcast on? I texted you right away, our college and I was like, we have somebody that’s listening. We had somebody listening. That’s right. So if you want to learn more about that, please visit again, Also, Perry does an incredible job with some learning guides if you want to download and to use as a guide as we kind of go through our sessions, we’d love to have you do that. 

Well, today’s topic, again, Perry’s title, “Excuse Me, Your Attitude is Showing,” and I’m going to have to be honest with you. We haven’t talked a lot about attitude in podcasts. A lot of people think it’s just a simple thing. They kind of let it go by. But man, it’s so important. And when I thought about this title, some things came to mind, I was like, Oh my gosh. Yeah. Whether it’s a team member, a family member, whatever, like, man, the attitude that you’re showing is so important. And, we read it so many different ways, so I can’t wait to get into this topic with you. Take us away. Yeah. Well, I was making a sales call with a key client with a colleague and I’m the manager and the salesperson, I was joining them. When we walked into the client’s conference room, this salesperson didn’t sit down. They threw themselves into the chair. During the meeting he was distant. I thought he was quiet. His tone when he did speak was not appropriate.

I thought, when we were leaving the client, the client asked me what’s wrong with the colleague? And I thought, you know, I can’t wait to find out myself. He thought things, the colleague, a sales guy thought the things went pretty well until I told him the client noticed that there was a problem. He gave me some story about what was bothering him. To be honest, his attitude was showing, he didn’t even know how negatively it affected everything else in the room. And I think that happens a lot. And you know, I had a colleague once years ago, we were speakers together and he went off and wrote a book and he wrote a book on attitude. And my first comment was, you wrote a whole book on attitude?! I mean, is more than three pages? And I went and looked at it and was thinking, this is so important. Most of us overlook it. But, it enters the room before you do. 

Yeah. And I just think it’s a big topic now, that example you shared, that wasn’t when I was with you on that. Well, I didn’t want to bring them this kid, you know, talk about a whole book. I think probably one of my first experiences with John, and his content was a book that he wrote called Winning Attitude. And, I remember diving into that thing and having no idea of the power of my attitude before diving into that book. And you know, one of the things that I hear him say, I hear some other leaders say that’s so important for us to remember is your attitude is your choice. Every single day you make the decision, it’s your choice.

And so I think that we need to be aware of that because it completely, if it’s not a positive attitude, it can undermine some of the things that you’re trying to accomplish. And the other thing is I think you need to make sure that it’s not just putting a smile on your face that changes the attitude, right? Because really what ends up happening is what’s your feeling on the inside or inward feelings? It becomes your outward behavior, your outward, you know, presence to those that are in the room. And that meeting, the guy comes in just slams himself in the chair and it just went downhill from there. Right? That was his. And so we project hourly at times what we feel inwardly, and we need to be aware of that. 

Coach Lou Holtz said that ability is really what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do, but attitude determines how well you do it. And so attitude is something others can see. It heavily affects how others see you and how they engage with you. That’s still a big thing today is trying to get people engaged and then when they don’t really want to be around me. If you’re a leader, one thing I just put on my wall with AI AO is attitude in is the attitude out. So whatever I’m putting in is what I’m getting back from others. It’s almost like a mirror effect. So what I thought we could talk about today as I was thinking about it. So what would be helpful as a leader would be what are there other triggers that can affect the attitude and what are some things you can do to improve the attitude? And also as a leader, are you noticing, you’re giving this feedback, these helpful insights to others. Attitude sometimes can be a blind spot. Yeah. I don’t know what I’m projecting. We’re talking about our children earlier about how they, you know, they can project things. I don’t even know how they’re coming across. And, you know, there’s reading Marcus really aside, I love some of that and he just said it’s not what happens to you. It’s how you respond to what happens to you. I think you can make that, as you said earlier, it’s a choice. 

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Yeah, absolutely. It’s a choice. And I love, you know, you’re talking about you’re a AI for me, what I visualized right there was AI equals EO, right? Like that’s the formula. And so I absolutely love that, and wrote that down. I’m going to keep that in front of me cause I think it’s something that’s prevalent to us as leaders and or as team members inside organizations that want to grow our influence.

A couple of just additional comments, thinking about some of John’s content that has just stuck with myself and a lot of our team members is, some of the things that I think drastically affect the organizational culture. I think it drastically affects the engagement level of your team members. I think your attitude is contagious and that’s both on the positive and the negative side. And so John teaches, you know, that attitudes have the ability to build up or tear down a team. It’s like talking about it. It is contagious. It is the culture and it will drive your team member engagement. Attitudes compound when exposed to others. And then the last one that we put down here, bad attitudes compound faster than good ones. Right? And, you know, I think that we need to be so aware of that not only in ourselves as we’re portraying our attitude, but when it comes to team members that are just as important as you are to the organizational culture and the engagement level of those around you, because they’re contagious one way or another.And so we need to make sure that we’re very aware of what’s going on and address it if need to be. 

Absolutely. Well, I noticed that we said it a couple of times. It’s a choice, but I also have noticed that it really requires intentionality. We talk a lot about being intentional as leaders. This one is a big one for me, but there are some triggers I’ve noticed that potentially can get in my way. And one of the first one, and it’s funny at this time, if you watch the news for about a minute, if you listen to anything going on right now around us, this, and I’ll just call it your environment, however, the media that you’re consuming, the things, the people you’re around, the books that you’re reading or not reading, whatever this environment is to you can really affect the attitude that that’s coming out of you. I think that is a big part of it. I want to challenge you to then step back and say, well, how do you see your environment? Right? Do you see the good in it? Do you see the opportunity? And it’s about like, it’s about your perspective of what’s going on. And we talk a lot about the power of perspective and what that’s like as a leader. 

I was on the road with John and Mark Cole, our CEO last week and we were up visiting an incredible company Movement Mortgage, Casey Crawford and all that he’s doing, not only in leading an organization but community transformation and the impact he’s having on people. Andwe went to their office and John spent some time with Casey’s leadership team and kind of opened it up to question and answer. And, so one of the first questions to John was, as a leader, how do you handle adversity? We know it’s coming, how do you handle it? And, man, I took almost a page of notes. Again, I’ve had the privilege of being with John for a long time. One of the greatest things I love about it is that I still try to be a learner of everything he’s saying. And when he says it, I think things just hit you differently. Different seasons of your leadership. And John went through and just a couple of things that I remember that day off the top of my head was, he always says this, when he starts off about kind of even attitude and leaders, he goes, man, there’s no two days in a row that are good for a leader. He may say it a little bit differently. And, and he goes, so when you think about that, you know it’s coming, you know it’s coming.

So, why are you allowing that adversity to change, you know, your attitude. And then he went on talking about like, Hey, there’s always an answer. I keep digging until you find the solution. Alright, be proactive around that. And then, which he always does, right? Cause it’s always, for him it’s always about evaluating your experiences. He’s like, man, just remember what are you learning through this so that the next time or the next person or whatever. And so he goes through this and all of a sudden he takes a question of a negative adversity. And you think about how that affects people. The attitude too by the time, by the time he was done, you know, five, seven minutes, Hey we were ready to go charge whatever with a water pistol. He had the whole room up just because you could see how his perspective of it in a situation like that of adversity actually he keeps in mind with his attitude of leading people.

Well I know we have a couple of us Marines in our family and when we got together the holidays while he’s talking about how do you handle it when things are kind of falling apart and going downhill in a quick hurry and they have a sane is very common. Is it calm is contagious. I just think when as you’re talking and, your team is watching you all the time, your family is watching you all the time. People are watching you all the time and if you lose it, if your attitude goes South again, your attitude you put in is what you’re going to get out. So my team is watching me and my perspective to your point is that Oh, this is falling apart. This is bad. And it affects my attitude. Guess what? I’m going to get back from my team. Everybody’s going to adopt that. Yeah. 

So the second trigger I’ve noticed in others is that it changed my attitude when I get discouraged, when things just aren’t going my way. And I can become discouraged about that. It affects attitude if you’re not intentional. Yeah. And at times, you know, back to my comment, there’s not going to be, you know, any two consecutive days that are good and a leader’s life. And so there are going to be times that you are, even though if you have the right perspective, you’re going to get discouraged. It’s  kind of just part of it’s part of being a human being. And I think what you have to do to overcome that are some of the things that we’ve talked about doing to overcome that is, you have to be able to kind of just share what’s going on with your team.

There’s a difference between being vulnerable and being transparent right there, it’s two different things. And so what I want to encourage you is yes, being transparent allows your team to see that you’re discouraged. They can kind of see right through it, right? Versus if you’re being authentic, not only they’re going to be able to see it, but you’re gonna be able to talk about it. And John talks a lot about having an inner circle and an outer circle and having, you know, accountability partners and mentors and all of a sudden there has to be people in your life that you’re able to just communicate it about. And I promise you as you talk more about it and you don’t let it kind of just fester inside you tend to kind of be uplifted from it and you get released from it. It’s kind of the word that I wrote down there when I was thinking also opens the door for you to get the focus off of me. It’s why I’m discouraged. I’m focused on me. If I could look outward, I can encourage, and it kind of lifts me up to do that. 

A third area that I’ve noticed, and this is probably, I should put it like this, number one is that when you’re going through change and if you’re not going through change, then really, you know, there’s no need for change. There’s no need for you as a leader. So you’re almost always going through change. But how we look at change when things are happening and I’m not comfortable, my attitude can go South in a hurry. Yeah, everyone wants change, right? But no one wants to change. Isn’t that what they say?

Yeah. And so you’re just like, Oh yeah, sure you want fresh and new change. But, do you really want to change? And I think this is important because if we don’t focus on innovation and we don’t focus on change, and as leaders, if you know, we see further than others, see and we’ve got to be out there and setting the pace for the team that we’re going to become irrelevant and we got to make sure that we are continuing to think about change. So with that, you definitely think about the attitudes that happened because the first question everybody asks when change comes out is how does this affect me? And most of the time it goes into a negative mindset, right? And so, I was with a client and we’re having this conversation. This just came to mind, so I’m going to share it with you.

And this lady comes up to me and she’s like, Hey, I’m in an industry where my competitor, unfortunately the owner had passed away and the family came to me and said, Hey, we want you to take on our book of business. And so she didn’t want to at the very beginning, but then she ended up doing it. And so as she brings on that book of business, the support team and the home office needs to grow. Well, there are some team members inside that we’ll call shared services that are not having a good attitude about this growth and what’s going to happen and you’re bringing new employees into our circle and all this kind of stuff. And so we began talking about how to help her understand why this is happening, why the change in order to kind of change our perspective, to change her attitude, to understand that through this change, what is the why behind it? And,  if they didn’t make that change and they stayed status quo, what’s the danger behind that? And she began to have a conversation and she was just like, I really need to share that stuff with my team members and I’m like, yes, you need to. And not only do you need to share the why and the, and then, and then what if we don’t? And what does this look like? And you don’t openly communicate. She’s going to begin to assume some things. Their attitude is going to get a little bit worse. It’s going to become contagious back to what we talked about and it’s going to be a bad seat on the team. So it was a great conversation. I just thought about, as we were talking about, that I had with her in regards to how she went about or wants to go about helping one of her team members change their attitude about the change that the organization is going through.

It was funny, one of the things John taught years ago, and I had read it, I thought it kind of sounded funny the way he said it, but are you having the meeting before the meeting and he said, when you’re going to spring change on somebody with the status quo is bad. We’re going in a different direction. Don’t just walk into the meeting and tell people we’re going in a different direction. Are you having the meeting before the meeting to let people know what the thinking is, why we’re doing things? To your point, what’s going on? Where are we going? And then go to the meeting and now people are in the end saying the attitude’s going to be seen. Right? Right. To your point, right. It’s going to show up. It’s going to show up. 

So finally, the last one that I’ve noticed for me and others is anytime a failure or a mistake or a setback occurs, it can really be the onset of a negative attitude. You kind of look down on yourself or look down the situation. It’s just natural to kind of put that down. John teaches and we adopt the how you see failure often can. That’s right. You know, and I think that’s it right there. I think you just hit it right, which is our perspective and how we see failure will drive the attitude that we have in it in the moment. And so we need to make sure that maybe if we’re going, maybe if we get down that road and we do experience, I shouldn’t say if when we experience failure we show a mindset or indoor change the way that our thought process is around gratitude, right? And I think that’s a word that’s not talked about enough in organization, but there’s a lot to be thankful for and have gratitude for others and for the opportunities and for the challenges that you have. And you’ve got to have that mindset of what is it that I am to learn from this failure? Like, I think that’s the perspective in order to really, really kind of change your attitude while going through failure.

It’s funny you mentioned John, we talk about it a lot around here, right? And, so I would encourage all organizations from the top level to communicate a positive attitude around failure. And because there is no success without failure and we can go down that. So it’s not necessarily about changing, it’s not about failure, but it’s really about the attitude that you have in it. So. Well, as we wrap up, let me just a couple of things I wrote down that I want to share. And you mentioned one of these interesting enough in the, in the kickoff with the quote from Lou Holtz and I’ve heard John say parts of this where he says, Hey, motivation is what you do. Ability is what you’re capable of doing, but your attitude is how you will do it. And I think if we keep that in mind and understand that we could be capable, we could have a job title and responsibility, right? But our attitude will determine how well you actually do your job. And at the end of the day, that’s what we’re all shooting for. We are trying to become a better leader. We are trying to become better whatever you’re responsible for, it doesn’t matter. And so your attitude is going to drive that. 

The last thing I’ll say is focus on what you can control and allow what you can control to drive your attitude there. There are things that are going to go on in your organization. They’re going to be decisions that are made. They’re going to be changes that are going to come down. There are going to be failures that are happened, but you control what you can control. And that does start with your attitude. Cause it’s your choice. Nobody can make you feel anything. You’re choosing how you want to feel about whatever’s coming at you. So I had to remind myself of it. That’s hard to remember in the, in the midst of it is the fight. Another word that jumps out at me is gratitude. The more I remain grateful, you know, if the job is bad. Yeah. But I have a job. Is this a challenge? Yes, but I’m grateful for the tools I have. The friends I have, the way we can be grateful, kind of brings everything down. I can bring that and bring my attitude up. Well, Chris, I appreciate the insights and we’ll just wrap up there. And remember, John has a book on this called the difference maker about attitude is a difference maker. If you want to check that out, you can also find out more about this podcast and about the 5 Levels. If you go to you can leave a comment for us there, or a question. You can also get a learner’s guide for this episode. We’re always grateful to have you with us. This has been The John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast.

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