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4 Critical Mindsets for Leaders

Mar 15, 2023

In my book, Becoming Deliberate:  Changing the Game of Leadership from the Inside Out, I wrote about mindsets that are crucial to adopt and develop to be a more deliberate leader. Since every action begins with a thought, it is very important to examine your thought process and ensure that you are more intentional, rather than operating on autopilot, especially when you are leading and influencing others. In many ways, your mindset is more important than your skill set, because it drives your behavior.

The four critical leadership mindsets include:

  1. Taking 100% Responsibility for your life, your leadership, and your thinking. A client once told me that reading this changed the way she thought about leadership. Because even though she felt sure she was taking full ownership and responsibility for her decisions, her actions and her results, she realized there were areas in which she wasn’t doing so.

Try this:  On a scale from one to ten, rate yourself on the level of responsibility you are taking in these key areas:

  • Your learning
  • Your attitude
  • Your behavior
  • Your key relationships
  • Your results
  • Your overall leadership

Think about how often you make an excuse or blame someone else or the circumstances for the times you fall short. What would it look like to take just 5% more responsibility in any of these areas? What actions or commitments would be required?  And what impact would it make?

  1. Lead with an open mind and an open heart. How often do you approach people with an open mind and an open heart? What is your tendency for labeling people based on their appearance, their background, or their experience – without really knowing who they are or where they have been. You never do know what challenges or struggles people are dealing with or have overcome.  And taking people at face value, without judgment, can be hard to do sometimes, and the more you practice doing it, the easier it gets. Have you ever had the experience of making up your mind about someone, only to learn something more about their life or circumstances that completely changes your opinion?

 Leading in this way means giving people the benefit of the doubt and assuming positive intent on their part. It means not reacting without knowing the whole story. It means not taking things personally and getting the facts and the context.

Think over your interactions with others in the past few days. What were the situations in which you could have been more open-minded and slower to judge? And how can you do better in the future?

  1. Be proactive, deliberate, and intentional about your thinking. How do you react to problems and challenges? How do you react to unfamiliar situations and difficult circumstances? What happens when life throws you a curve ball? How often do you ask yourself “what was I thinking?’

When you take time to think through things in advance, you are better prepared to handle the unexpected.  Whether it’s a crucial conversation with someone important to you or a set of changes and challenges that will take place over a long period of time, you can benefit by spending time thinking about it in advance.

Many of us don’t take time to reflect, plan, prepare, even journal about the difficult challenges in our lives, and the benefit of doing this is well beyond the time it takes.

Try this:  Set a timer for 20 minutes. Think of a problem or challenge you are facing and for which you are not clear how to proceed.  Start writing and don’t stop until the timer goes off. Think and write about options, as well as the doubts and fears you may be experiencing.  Get it out and get it down on paper. You may gain some valuable clarity. Or you may realize the situation is not as bad as you thought it was.  Or both.

  1. Commit to lifelong learning and development about leadership. I believe that leadership development is personal development. To be a better leader, you must learn to be a better person. If you are going through life with your eyes and ears wide open, and you are open to learning and growth, you cannot help but learn a few things. The commitment to do this requires noticing, paying attention, and being consciously aware, rather than going through the motions. It is truly surprising what you can learn when you create an intention to learn and commit to it.

Leadership is one of those topics. There is always more to learn, there is always another level. If you want to set the best example for others and be the best role model you can be for the important people in your life, learning about leadership is a must.

Starting with these mindsets – or creating your own – provides a way to frame your thinking about how you show up as a leader.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. And, if you don’t yet have your copy of Becoming Deliberate: Changing the Game of Leadership from the Inside Out, you can get your copy here.

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