Part I: Developing the Leadership Mindset: Set your Mind, Manage your Destiny
In the time it takes you to read this article, I hope to forever change how you think and act. A lofty goal for 1,638 words, right? No pressure. How is this possible? By helping you to develop an unbreakable perspective that is the key source of success for modern leaders. Whoever you are, whatever your situation, you will benefit from this powerful mindset. 1,574 words to go; let’s get started.
Great leaders today are viewed as champions of the right things, for the right reasons. They are advocates and catalysts for important causes that benefit the greater good. They earn, rather than inherit, their leadership mantle by building trust and acting consistently with integrity. Leadership can be hard to succinctly define but easy to recognise.
Here are some of my favourite quotes that summarize some key characteristics of modern leadership:
- Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. - Warren G. Bennis
- The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things. - Ronald Reagan
- Leadership is an achievement of trust - Peter Drucker
- The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. - Ralph Nader
- Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others - Jack Welch
- Leaders should be role models and walk the walk - Gary Vaynerchuck
- As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. - Bill Gates
- The supreme quality of leader-ship is integrity. - Dwight D. Eisenhower
The SuperPower of Perspective
What is a mindset and why it important? My own father answered both questions with a phrase he mentioned at several pivotal points in my youth, “Your attitude determines your altitude”. My definition of mindset is the orientation of key beliefs that act as an internal compass directing how we think and act. Its influence is so strong that it ultimately selects the coordinates to our life's journey and destination. Take a second or two to pause and reflect about the power of those words. You already know it to be true. You have known people with great attitudes who seemingly attract a steady stream of happiness and success, and alternatively, you have known an Eeyore
(Winnie the Pooh) who attracts constant gloom.
Mindset is so important that it is hard to overstate. Because mindset is a superpower ingredient in success, it is valuable and applicable to all of us, regardless of job title, industry, department, or company.
Leadership vs. non-leader mindset
To explore how the leadership mindset is different from the non-leader mindset we are going to cover seven belief areas. We will reflect on the differences in perspective between leaders and non-leaders. As you read these perspectives consider the life-long impact of holding these two different mindsets. Think about the different career paths, experiences, and destinations two young hires at the same company would travel after 40 years of working with these two mindsets.
Be aware of the people and factors affecting your mindset, positively and negatively. Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend most time with.” Who are you the average of? If they are not people you admire and want to emulate as leaders, then it could be time to think about making some substitutions.
Conversely, think about how you impact your 5 people. Do you bring the average up or down? Take some time to do an honest inventory of your habits. Keep up with habits that reinforce the mindset you want to protect, and eliminate all others.
When you are surrounded by the right people, you can focus your efforts on developing your leadership.
Consider the following:
- Practice: To effectively adjust your behaviour you first must re-position your perspective on the key beliefs of the leadership mindset (purpose, potential, motivation, responsibility, capability, change and outcomes). Identify moments that will allow you to apply them frequently and consistently.
- Self-audit: Set up a daily or weekly audit schedule to assess your behaviours and mindset. Review your recent behaviours and actions against the leadership elements outlined above. Take note of where you are aligned and misaligned. Understand the causes of both. This is a learning opportunity. Take note of any changes you observe in how people are interacting with you. Have frosty relationships warmed a little?
- Ask for feedback: Ask your peers, boss, and team pointed questions about your behaviours and performance. For example, you could ask:
- “What positive changes in my behaviour and performance have you noticed in the last month?
- “What behaviours of mine do you believe prevent me from being a better leader?
If you have strong relationships with these people they should give you more candid and insightful feedback that you can reflect on, and compare against your own perception of your leadership performance. This feedback should inform and improve your practice. Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. Seek feedback to make your practice more valuable.
I sincerely hope that this article has excited you enough to leverage the superpower of the leadership mindset. Armed with this knowledge, you have the potential to change how you think and act forever.
Before we go, answer this great question posed by Robert Goffeeand Gareth Jones, “Why should anyone follow you?” We will all have our own answers, but in general people will follow you if they trust you. And their trust is determined by consistent alignment with your intentions, your words, and your actions. Your mindset influences all of these things. View your mindset as one of your most powerful tools. Protect it, develop it, and you'll be amazed by the journey it takes you on.
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