Mindset and Beliefs: How a Leader’s Mindset Shapes Reality

By: Francisco Cassina

The Journey from Law Student to Leadership Coach

Both of my parents were lawyers, and when I was 18, I was a law student going down that same path. But it soon became evident my passion lay elsewhere. Through my social networks, I had the opportunity to facilitate workshops on various personal development topics.

Through this, I felt like I was helping people better their lives, which gave me meaning, but I felt something was missing in my approach. Then I had my first coaching experience, a series of experiential workshops that completely shifted my perspective. I learned about the amazing power our mindset holds and the importance of incorporating emotions, somatic learning, and a holistic approach to self-development.

Over the years, the lessons I learned from making this transition have underpinned the way I approach my work to this day.


Navigating Realities

I discovered that being a leader is a lot like being a navigator who must skillfully maneuver through diverse interpretations of reality. In recognizing that we each perceive the world from our individual vantage point, we can understand that we live in a world of interpretation.

I moved away from a space of instruction and into a coaching practice, where I no longer simply give people answers. Instead, I rely on a framework of “language, body and emotion” to help my clients achieve breakthroughs on their own terms.


Transforming Leadership Through Language

Let’s begin with language, which shapes the way we see things. Whether we’re talking to a family member, a colleague, a client, a boss, or even to ourselves, there is always a running dialogue.

Are you the victim in your story? Is your language saying, “It’s not my fault” or is the running dialogue in your head critical? Do you second guess your choices or tell yourself that the project you just completed wasn’t good enough?

This will ultimately affect the other two realms, body and emotion. Consider someone who struggles to say no. Despite having a full plate, their boss requests they take on another project. Perhaps, the narrative they're embracing is that they need to constantly prove themselves.

This language will shape their emotions. They feel low about themselves, maybe even resentful, which then manifests in their body. They say yes, but they look stressed or even irritated. In other words, the three realms align to affect their overall presence.

So, what do you do when you’re caught in a cycle like this? It begins with your internal communication, i.e., your inner dialogue. The first step, changing the story you tell yourself, is simple but not easy. Still, when you change your beliefs, everything else follows.

To be clear, this is not about being inauthentic, it takes critical work. Let’s put it all together. Here’s an example that illustrates how each of these realms interacts:


Leadership Potential Through Communication

I once worked with a high-level people manager who was at a complete loss with his team. He was stressed and overworked because he felt he couldn’t delegate anything, as the quality of the work his team produced was not high enough.

He thought, What’s the point in delegating if I’ll just have to redo the work later?

We began to talk through the feelings that this inner language evoked. He was feeling frustrated, impatient, resigned. He mentioned that there were several meaningful initiatives that he didn’t have time to get to because he was physically scrambling to get through work he didn’t enjoy. Imagine how he must have appeared to his team.

Turns out, the work on his desk was not the work he really needed to do. As a leader, his real work was to find a new reality. The running belief of “I can’t delegate to anyone” was holding him back. Once he was able to connect this programming to the feelings it produced, and ultimately to the outcomes he resented, it became clear that his mindset was sabotaging him.

So, he found new language. But it’s important to do this authentically. First, it was simply recognizing that this situation may not be as fixed as he previously assumed. Then, it was getting curious about his team and why the work may not have been where he expected.

It turns out, in his impatience to get everything done faster so he could get it over with, he was providing his team with almost no feedback. He had overlooked opportunities to help his team reach their potential when, in fact, his team comprised many people who were eager to learn but hadn’t been properly trained.

A small tweak to one realm, language, changed his emotional response and ultimately allowed him to show up differently – as an inspiring leader.

This example demonstrates the greatest lesson that I’ve learned over my years as a coach: that communication and leadership cannot be separated. How we communicate – with ourselves and others – is fundamental to how we show up as leaders.


Embracing Authentic Leadership and Effective Communication

As leaders, our role is to move out of a victim mentality and recognize that we always have a choice. When we initiate changes in our language and mindset, we create seismic shifts in our emotional states and physical presence. These transformations, in turn, propel us towards embodying the essence of true leaders.