What People-First IS

If you’ve read my book, you know I focus on the mind of a leader.  Our minds are powerful machines and what we are thinking and feeling, drives our actions.  So I want to go back to the “Mind of a Leader” ideas from the book and give you a few tips on how to cultivate these different aspects of your mindset.  


  • Curious Mind – When you adopt the mindset of a beginner you will be able to see things from a new perspective, gain new insights, and have more information with which to make decisions.

    • You don’t know it all and that is a great thing.  Try this:

      • Ask people to tell you more about their ideas.  

      • Let people know that your intention is to clarify your understanding. 

      • Put people at ease with your questions, by shifting from “why” questions.  Even for a moment, asking “why did you do that” can put us on the defensive.

      • Focus on open ended questions that give the person space to expand on their answer.  A simple yes or no doesn’t tell us much.  Link to May webinar “Powerful Questions”

  • Grateful Mind – All organizations will experience both failure and success and some leaders only highlight the failures. However, the most skilled leaders understand the importance of consistently sharing gratitude. 

    • Every day list 3 things you are grateful for.  As so many articles tell us, even if you have to go back to basics “roof over my head, my family, etc…” You are still training your brain to find the bright spots and to be grateful.  

    • Start with thank you.  Even if someone gives you feedback you disagree with, thank them for speaking up.  

  • Humble Mind – An easy way to foster resentment is to be unable to accept blame. Pride or hubris gets in the way of honest reflection and adjustment and hinders future growth. A successful leader recognizes their role in the successes and failures of their team and is willing to publicly acknowledge both.

    • Admit mistakes, we all make them.  When you screw up, own it.

    • Ask for help.

    • Focus on abundance.  It is about “yes, and”.  You can still win even when someone else does.  There is plenty for all

  • Willing Mind – Fear of failure or the unexpected can sometimes push leaders to be hesitant to make changes and step outside of their comfort zone. A leader who embraces a willing mindset is able to engage and address challenges head on. 

    • Set a vision for the future that stretches you

    • Become more willing to try by reframing failure and mistakes as opportunities to learn.  Remember that we only fail if we fail to learn.  

    • If it feels like a big step, a willing mind breaks it down to smaller steps that are easier to navigate.

I’d love to hear what action steps you take! 

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About Amy Lafko

As a Physical Therapist, Amy spent years in school learning best practices for patient care and how to put the patient first. Like so many technically skilled clinicians, she advanced to a leadership role. Spending 20+ years in operational leadership, she had an epiphany: Putting the customer first isn’t the path to success or fulfillment. Rather, the most successful organizations and practices put their people first – and exceptional customer care, profitability, and effectiveness naturally followed.