3 Mindsets of a Highly Successful Leader

It is the end of the year. We are exiting a tumultuous year and entering into the unknown. The most important aspect of your “person” right now is your mindset. 

By mindset, I mean the way your mind operates… the attitudes and beliefs you hold on a consistent basis. 

I shared last week how I came to write about this topic. In an early morning meditation session, while writing down my thoughts as they came to me, I was able to see how mediocre my thoughts at the time were. Ninety percent of the thoughts that crossed my mind that morning were “small” or “average” thoughts. Remembering back to the Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” I could see that morning that my mindset was leaning towards small. 

And to be honest, it shocked me. 

Looking at the sheet of paper in front of me, I could see why I was struggling to reach some of the goals I had set for myself. It was very clear where my mind was in relation to where it needed to be. 

You have probably been there before. 

That moment when you reflect on a given day and realize that most of your conversations were about events, happenings or, even worse, other people. You think to yourself, “Wow. How could I have let an entire day pass with my mind in the gutter?” 

Yet, as a good friend recently reminded me, we need to show compassion to ourselves. One day of talking about small events or other people does not necessarily make us small-minded. Several days? Well, there may be an issue. 

So, as leaders, we must work to discipline our minds. To keep our mindset, as often as we can, above the clouds and thinking about ideas – how to create, how to innovate, how to lead better, how to manage more effectively. 

Last week, we looked at the mindsets of a highly successful person. Today, I would like to examine the highly successful leader. What drives her? How does he think? Where is her mindset? How does he approach the people, team or company he leads? 

Let’s dive in to the 3 Mindsets of a Highly Successful Leader. 

HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL LEADERS HAVE GROWTH MINDSETS

What do I mean when I say a growth mindset? 

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck is one of the leading researchers in the area of growth mindset. Dweck asserts that a growth mindset is the opposite of, what is called, a fixed mindset. 

A fixed mindset person believes that the talents, character, abilities and intelligence of a person are “fixed;” they cannot be changed or improved upon. You are what you are and you get what you get. 

I think of the people in our lives who are the naysayers. The ones who are quick to tell us, “That can’t be done,” or “You won’t be able to achieve that,” or “Well, it’s never been done before.” The people who are quick to remind us of where we came from but lack the care, compassion and leadership to tell us where we can go. Often, because these people have lacked the ability to move forward in their own lives, subconsciously they try to hold others back as well. This behavior is another unfortunate aspect of the Law of the Lid

A growth mindset is opposite of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset person believes that the talents, character, abilities and intelligence of a person can always grow and be improved upon. Here’s the deal: The growth mindset person believes in growth for themselves and for other people. They are not pessimistic. They are not negative. They see unlimited potential in themselves and in the people around them. 

A growth mindset leader understands people can change. And she helps them to change. Only when a person, by their words or behavior, show they have no desire to grow, does a growth mindset leader remove them from the team. This is a key point to consider: Growth mindset people only thrive in environments with other growth-mindset people. These are the leaders who lead “learning organizations;” companies who seek continual growth and transformation by consistently providing educational and training programs for their employees. These leaders understand that in order for the organization to evolve, the people within the organization must evolve. 

What else? 

What other traits do growth mindset leaders have? 

Growth Mindset Leaders Listen to their People 

Growth mindset leaders understand they learn more when they close their one mouth and use their two ears. Growth mindset leaders understand they should be the last ones to speak in a meeting. Why? They want to grow and evolve in addition to providing their team members opportunities to grow and learn by verbalizing ideas. Growth mindset leaders understand they cannot carry the organization, team or project on their own shoulders. They need the help of those around them.

Growth Mindset Leaders Learn from their People

Why do growth mindset leaders listen? So they can learn from the people around them. They value collaboration because they know the organization can evolve and transform when everyone is empowered to bring their ideas to the table. 

Growth mindset leaders do not believe they have the answer to every problem. This is why the team exists; to help solve the larger problems. The leader’s primary job is to create space and so others can add to the larger conversation. 

Growth Mindset Leaders Value the Opinions of Others

Why do growth mindset leaders learn from their team members? Because they value the people around them. 

Ideally, you will want to have recruited the top people on your team. When you have recruited top talent it makes it easier to trust them and value them. However, a growth mindset leader knows they can learn from anyone… so they listen to everyone. 

And can I add something here? Often the most negative person on your team is the person who is most frustrated because they care the most about your team and are experiencing frustration with you or some aspect of the team you lead. Listen to them. It may be hard to get past their attitude. However, of you can set aside your own ego and listen, you will learn more from this person than every other person on your team combined. 

Growth mindset leaders value the opinions of others… even those who do not agree with them. 

HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL LEADERS HAVE EMPOWERING MINDSETS 

What does it mean to empower? To empower someone means to give away authority and power to the person so they can get the job done. 

Empowerment is not about delegating those tasks you don’t want to do. That’s laziness. Empowerment starts with getting the right people on the bus in the right seats on the bus. Once you have the right people in the right roles doing the right jobs, your job as a leader is to simply empower them. 

Meaning: Give away your power and authority to them. 

You do not second-guess them. You do not undermine them. You do not micromanage them. You hold them to outcomes and allow them the freedom to determine their own systems and structures when appropriate. 

Your power becomes their power. 

At the end of the day, if the empowering leader has done her job correctly, she has very little power. It’s all gone. The team members and front lines staff have taken over leading their respective areas allowing the leader to, get this, lead. To support. To provide the tools. To provide the training. To recruit. To set vision. To “walk the halls.” To improve processes and systems. To raise up new leaders.

Disempowering leaders work hard to take away power and authority. They concentrate all their effort on consolidating power and authority in their own hands. Every decision has to be run by them. They need to know every detail. They live in the weeds and force their team members to roll around in the weeds with them.  They undermine. They micromanage. They make veiled threats at firing staff members. They manage the process while forgetting about the outcome. They want every team member to think and be like them. 

They are small-minded people. 

They are not leaders. 

They are little people with the need for control because they have lost control in other areas of their lives. 

I digress… that’s not you. That’s not me. 

You are an empowering leader who seeks every opportunity to give away power and authority where and when you can. 

HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL LEADERS HAVE FOCUSED MINDSETS

Highly successful leaders have one focus: The Outcome. 

Profit. Impact. Effectiveness. ROI. Creation. Innovation. Whatever the outcome is, this is where the focus on the highly successful leader lies. They can see the forest through the trees. Their mindset remains high-level.

Highly focused leaders do not get lost in the weeds. They keep their minds focused on the purpose and vision of the company. 

Steve Jobs discussed the importance of focus in his short time on Earth. He was famous for his quote: “Focus is about saying ‘no’ to really good things in order to make room for the great things.” 

I once heard an organizational leader discuss their role in leading a highly successful organization. He stated he had three primary foci: Strategy, Culture and Product Development. That’s it. He declared nothing else would be added to his calendar. His only focus would be these three issues within the company. 

This is the mindset of a highly successful leader. 

Choose your focus or foci (2-3 max) and remain committed to these and these only. Nothing else. Empower others, get out of their way and do what only you can do. 

Have a mindset of growth. Have a mindset of empowerment. Have mindset of focus. 

This is the path of the highly successful leader. 

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