Adopting a leader mindset requires a fundamental change in perspectives. Instead of approaching others as friend or foe, comrade or combatant, allies or enemies; the leader mindset approach is one of mutual appreciation – one rational individual to another. Leaders who adopt this mindset philosophy change the geometry of every situation from good vs. bad to good vs. great; and from win vs. lose to a challenge to learn something from the situation for future improvements. Understand that this is far more than some simplistic a ‘Pollyanna Platitude‘, it is an internal desire to identify and purposefully extract whatever positiveness can be found in every instance.
This mindset is clearly not for everyone, but leaders who are up to the challenge are able to distinguish themselves in much the same way any donor is distinguished from any investor. The perspective of the donor is that the individual, group, or organization releases a portion of their resources with few if any stipulations. The expectation is that good will result from the donation, but ultimately they have little vested interest in the outcome. The investor perspective is different; they actively pursues a collaborative partnership aimed at a projected mutually gain. The investor is committed to the positive outcomes and has a significant interest in the overall success of the venture, or project…or person.
The leader mindset actively looks for ways to create learning opportunities, even in the midst of crisis, calamity, or chaos. the focus for the learning is not limited to their individual benefit alone, but for is transparently obvious in its trajectory for the betterment of the team, group, department, or organization. Such commitment is most commonly identified as ‘mindfulness‘ of a leader.
How to Identify Your Leader Mindset
So, how can one determine whether or not they have a leader mindset?
The first step is to consider how one commonly examines the geometry of a given situation: Is it win/lose, succeed/fail or challenge/learn? Research literature is plentiful with regard to how individuals can train themselves to choose appropriate responses to situations and issues, and un-train themselves from reacting to situations and issues. Often, the time required to make the most appropriate decision is less than 60 seconds. At first glance 60 seconds may not seem like a long time, but consider any conversation where a question is posed and there is more than 15 seconds of silence; some media professionals refer to this as ‘white space’.
The goal is to allow the ‘white space’ to filter out, accept, reject, and modify the various possible responses. Leaders who have trained themselves to respond rather than react can often reduce the ‘white space’ to something less uncomfortable.
The second step is to consider the level of commitment one has to the people, project, unit, or organization. is the leader making a donation, or are they invested? An attractive method for determining the difference between a donation and a commitment is to consider the personal or professional real-world impact or ramifications for the results. If there is little to no impact personally or professionally, then it’s likely that the leader is making a donation, rather than an investment.
Note: It is essential to recognize that there are strategic reasons, and far-reaching benefits to both donations and investments, so this missive is not to suggest one is ‘better’ than the other; rather this revelation simply distinguishes between the two.
The third step in identifying the leader mindset requires the leader to identify their level of purposeful intentionality, often referred to as mindfulness. The mindfulness aspect of leadership does not requires days or even hours of introspective analysis, mediation and reflection. It can, and should, be accomplished in short – but focused – segments of manageable time, under the control of the leader. Asking the following simple introspective question, and then training oneself through practice to diligently seek an answer will determine the purposeful intentionality, or leader mindfulness: “what is my motivation for doing _______?”
The shortest distance between a question and an answer is the truth.
If the answer to the question is substantially longer than the question itself, then a strong likelihood exists that the answer is more of a rationale, explanation, theory, or excuse, than an answer. Answers are fundamental, basic, clear, and understandable.
Leaders who are able to correctly ‘answer’ the introspective question, in whatever version it is formed, demonstrate an effective leader mindset.
About the Author
Dr. Matthews has published numerous articles and several books on the subject of leadership, and trained professional leaders across professions. If you found this information useful pass it on to those in your network of professionals.