May is recognized as Mental Health Month and offers the perfect opportunity to discuss the relationship between successful leadership and a healthy mindset. It may sound cliché, but our mindset defines the impact we will make as leaders. Our mind plays a crucial role in all aspects of our life, especially in our professional sphere. Our mindset dictates how we see the world and how we make decisions. As leaders, we must cultivate our minds as much as we cultivate our leadership skills and help our teams do the same.
We must examine how we speak to ourselves, what mental habits hold us back, and what paradigms no longer serve us. There are primarily four mindset lenses that have been studied time and again, and once we understand the differences, we can customize our leadership development programs to unlock the effectiveness of our emerging leaders. But first, let's understand where leaders go wrong.
Drawing from my previous role as an HR leader and my current position as an executive leadership coach, I have observed four common ways in which leaders undermine their own success. Regrettably, these detrimental patterns of behavior stem from deep-seated thoughts and are most evident in the following manners:
Distrust: Leaders who hold onto limiting beliefs or harbor negative experiences may rely on them, preventing them from fully trusting their team or effectively delegating tasks. This can lead to information hoarding and extreme control, ultimately stifling creativity and demotivating the team.
Doubt: Leaders who suffer from impostor syndrome can become indecisive and fall victim to analysis paralysis. As a result, these leaders can unintentionally create a bottleneck for their teams, hindering progress and making it more difficult to achieve their goals.
Evasion: When organizations prioritize risk avoidance, leaders may become excessively cautious and hesitant to take any risks. This can lead to a culture of innovation stagnation, hindering the team's ability to innovate and ultimately causing harm to the organization.
Fear: The fear of making mistakes or not fitting in can be deeply ingrained in many leaders, especially those who have faced significant challenges or setbacks in their past. This fear can lead to a desire for conformity and a reluctance to take risks or challenge the status quo. When leaders prioritize fitting in over making the best decisions for their organization, it can lead to a phenomenon known as “groupthink.” To avoid groupthink, leaders must create an environment where all ideas are valued, and dissent is encouraged. They should prioritize diverse perspectives and ensure all team members feel comfortable sharing their opinions and challenging assumptions.
Now that we´ve covered the areas where leaders go wrong, let´s review the (4) Mindset Shifts that can lead to effective, next-level leadership.
Growth Mindset (instead of a Closed Mindset): A growth mindset is the belief that people can change and grow their abilities, talents, and intelligence. Leaders who embrace a growth mindset are more effective and often are great multipliers and motivators.
Mastery Mindset (instead of a Performance Mindset): Leaders with a mastery mindset seek to learn from every situation, embrace mistakes, and are persistent, adaptable, and willing to build consensus and confidence in their directs.
Goal Possibility Mindset (instead of Risk Avoidance Mindset): Leaders with a goal-oriented mindset focus on long-term objectives instead of short-term risk prevention. They focus on developing resiliency, trust, and determination in their teams.
Conscious Mindset (instead of Implemental Mindset): The way leaders approach problem-solving and decision-making can have a significant impact on the success of their team and organization. A conscious mindset leader is one who works to remain open, and curious. These leaders view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, are open to new ideas and perspectives, and consider all options before implementing decisions. On the other hand, an implemental mindset leader is focused on executing tasks and implementing decisions quickly, potentially limiting their ability to see the bigger picture and identify potential risks and opportunities. While an implemental mindset can be beneficial in some cases, balancing implementing decisions and considering new ideas is crucial for success. Leaders should remain open to feedback, seek out diverse perspectives, and continually learn and adapt to new information. By doing so, leaders can create an environment of innovation and creativity, allowing their team to thrive and drive success for the organization.
Leadership effectiveness starts with the individual leader and their mindset. Although external factors play a role, focusing on what can be controlled is essential. Therefore, it is important to invest in oneself and seek help when necessary to break through unhelpful thought patterns and habits. By doing so, leaders can develop the necessary skills and behaviors to become more effective leaders. Finding a mentor or coach, or seeking out a trained support system can provide guidance, feedback, and accountability. Through self-reflection and intentional action, leaders can make significant changes and improve their leadership abilities. Ultimately, this investment in oneself will not only benefit the leader but also their team and the organization as a whole.