What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “What have I gotten myself into” when stepping into a new role or position? One of my international clients said these very words in our last coaching session. He was elected chairman of the board of a non-profit organization that he had joined just over a year ago.

During his first year, he learned early on that many members resisted any change and thwarted any new input. Their slogan that he heard repeatedly when he presented new ideas was, “We’ve always done it this way.” Because he could see that change was necessary for the non-profit to grow, we had to develop strategies that he could use to try to implement those changes. We explored ways on how to win team members over by meeting with them one on one to gain their support and trust. He was successful with this method, which resulted in his current position as chairman.

When he bemoaned to me, “What have I gotten myself into” phrase, I laughed. I reminded him that he made some great headway and could use some of the strategies we came up with a year ago. However, his biggest concern for our session was the inaugural meeting that was scheduled for next week. So, we rolled up our sleeves for a powerful coaching session so he could start out keen and set the emotional tone for the duration of his position as chairman.

What are the techniques to be implemented when taking on a new leadership role whether it is the CEO or chairman of a board? Below are crucial steps to take to ensure that the initial meeting is outstanding by firmly rooting yourself as a strong, convincing, and optimistic leader.

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  1. You have to know your team and their style. I told my client that he needs a slogan and I consciously chose that word. His board was made up of some very rigid, stodgy individuals who probably would relate to the word slogan better than brand or tagline. The slogan he came up with was good because it could be used whenever confronted with resistance and/or negative responses to new ideas. His slogan: “We Will Find A Way.”
  2. I suggested to my client that he use only positive words and state everything in the positive. Initially, he was going to tell the board about some new ideas that aligned with their mission, and tell them that he could not do it alone. Setting the tone with this first meeting was crucial and as a coach, I pushed him to re-phase that in the positive. Finally, he came up with, “together we can achieve more” ending. As a leader, being progressive requires stating things in the positive and this method keeps the enthusiasm high. Enthusiasm is contagious and can overcome the “naysayers” and resistance quickly.
  3. In the past, whenever my client presented an idea, he was often told that it’s not realistic which was frustrating. I mentioned that when we are told something is not realistic, it usually means that the person does not want change and they prefer to stay stuck in their comfort zone. When confronted with “that’s not realistic,” it is good to use analogies as a response. I’m sure that when people first heard about the dream/notion to fly to the moon, the response was, “that’s not realistic.” Those who dare to chase after their dreams are often told they are not realistic. These are the people who are naysayers and dream stealers. People do not like change and the resistance to change takes more energy than it does to flow with the change.
  4. Planting seeds, and prepping your mental garden. What do I mean by that? I suggested to my client that he challenge his board by asking them, do you have a positive and growth mindset or do you have a negative, stagnant mindset? Hearing this question, individuals will tell themselves that they have a positive growth mindset and you are prepping their mental garden and reminding them of their higher selves. You can use this as a way to prepare them for the new insight or new idea you want to present. In this way, you have planted the seed to keep a positive stance and a willingness to be open and grow with the change.
  5. Leading meetings that drive conversation amongst the team are great for team building. As a new leader, trying to launch a dynamic meeting that engages the members can be a challenge. A coaching technique I share often is to plant seeds with those who you know are already supportive of your ideas. Let them know before the meeting what you need from them to entice engagement and prevent the awkward silence that can ensue when you ask for feedback or ideas. In addition to having these individuals prepped for the meeting, call on people, asking for their idea and be sure to validate their idea before probing for more. Using this technique helps build the momentum of the meeting while keeping it safe for everyone to speak up. [/message] [su_spacer]

It takes conscious effort to make changes and the main change we focused upon was the patterns of speech to phrase everything in the positive. This one change alone can produce a different outcome especially because being positive makes everyone in the room feel great. Barbara L. Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, in her research found that positive emotions produce optimal functioning that have a long duration. She refers to maintaining positive emotions as a broadened mindset because of the broad and far-reaching effects of maintaining this state of mind. My challenge to you is to take on the positive mindset and experience the long-range results and influence from adopting this one conscious act.

Thank you for reading the article. Please add your comments and like. Contact me for a complimentary and powerful coaching session, as you know, Success Starts With You.

Melinda Fouts, Ph.D.
Melinda is a select Columnist & Featured Contributor for BIZCATALYST 360° and a Member of the Forbes Coaches Council (comprised of Top coaches offering insights on leadership development & careers). Prior to executive coaching and leadership development, Melinda has been in private practice as a psychotherapist for almost 20 years. She leverages her strengths and insights from her psychology background to help leaders and managers in transition through increased self-awareness. Owner and founder of Success Starts with You, is based upon the premise that you are already successful. Increasing self-awareness to increase emotional intelligence and unlocking blind spots are paramount to continued success. Melinda uses assessments to help bring more awareness. Whether you are a leader or manager in transition, need a thought partner, or need to improve your professional presence, Melinda has developed unique and innovative techniques from her background to help you reach higher heights. Melinda received her Ph.D. in Jungian Psychology from Saybrook University and her Masters in Psychology from Pacifica University. Melinda has worked as a consultant with executives and businesses for over 20 years. As a result of her experience and studies, she has developed a unique craft to fine-tune leadership development for peak performance. She lives in Colorado with her big, beautiful dog, Stryder.


  1. Melinda – Great advice and a must read for anyone who is about to embark on a new leadership position. Going in with a positive approach to change and improvement will quickly pay big dividends. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. The people that you work with reflect what you bring into the engagement. if you want a positive work place you have to set the tone. Positive input gets positive results. Great post Melinda I positively enjoyed it.

  3. Melinda – I love it. Indeed, it’s soooo important to maintain positive emotions. Not as easy to sustain as people might imagine, however, especially when difficult situations pop up. As usual, your advice is spot on. Thanks for sharing.