The Power of Self-Talk for Managers

Most managers don’t realize they’re wasting their time trying to control their team.

After all, you can’t really control other people.

You can only control yourself.

And that’s exactly what great leaders do—they work hard to control themselves. Like a superhero suiting up to fight crime, they take steps to show up at work as the best version of themselves.

Want to know how they do it?

Superhero Managers know that thoughts lead to emotions, and emotions lead to actions.

Since showing up as the Hero You at work is all about actions, you can control your actions by directing your attention to the place where actions start—thoughts.

Stan’s Story

To illustrate the power of focusing on thoughts in order to better control feelings and actions, let me tell you a story about a close friend of mine, Stan, who suffered from serious depression.

At one point Stan felt so bad that he even took steps to take his own life, thankfully without following through.

After that, he was determined to work at improving his mental health. He read everything he could about depression.

In the process, he learned about the power of self-talk—the internal thoughts we have about ourselves.

His research and his own experience taught him that often those who are battling depression suffer from having very negative thoughts about themselves.

In order to become more aware of his own self-talk and take control of it, Stan started to count how many times throughout the day he could notice his negative thoughts about himself. He used an old golf-stroke counter.

Each time he caught a line of negative self-talk floating through his mind, he counted it.

Soon he realized that there were hundreds of times during a single day that he was having negative thoughts about himself. Those thoughts were leading to feelings, which were leading to actions.

Stan realized that to change his feelings and actions, he needed to change his thoughts.

Today, Stan is no longer struggling with depression. He’s battled back and is busy helping others who are working to do the same.

Lessons to remember

The first thing I want you to remember from Stan’s story is this: actions and feelings start out as thoughts. So, if you control your thoughts, you can control your feelings and actions.

There’s no doubt about it, being a Superhero Manager is about actions. But the truth is, those actions begin as thoughts within us. So really, being a great manager and leader is all about controlling your thoughts.

The second thing we can learn from Stan is that thoughts can be habits.

We often picture habits as being things we do, actions we take, automatically, without thinking.

But what about the thoughts we think without noticing?

Giving attention to our habitual ways of thinking can have a huge impact on how we show up as managers.

If you can control your thoughts, you can become a leader who influences and inspires their team to be successful.

After all, our thoughts will affect how we feel. And how we feel will affect how we act.

If you’d like to read more on the benefits of self-awareness and how it affects self-management, check out this post:

For now, I encourage you to take a few minutes for private reflection. As you do, answer this question:

How are my thoughts affecting how I’m showing up at work?

How is my self-talk serving me? Is it mostly positive, or mostly negative?

What actions would I like to change? What feelings are leading me to take those actions? What thoughts are leading me to experience those feelings?

What might be the easiest step I can take to notice the thoughts that aren’t supporting me to be Hero Me at work?

If I can support you in becoming the best version of yourself as a manager, please send me a message HERE.


Nate Sleger is a career manager, management coach, and author of The Manager’s Self-Coaching Guide. His course Show Up At Work Like A Superhero has been taken by hundreds of managers worldwide. He currently lives and works in Wisconsin, USA.

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