Reflect for a moment on the ways in which the mindset people on your team bring to their roles impact on their ability to succeed. Do some people have the required skills but fail to perform due to the attitudes they adopt? Do others think in ways that allow them to stretch beyond baseline expectations of their role to standards of performance reflective of their true potential?
How often do you find yourself procrastinating or avoiding the things you know you really need to get done? Do some roles you play seem easy on one day but an insurmountable challenge on another? Maintaining focus, discipline and momentum are common challenges for many of the senior leaders I work with. So too is maintaining optimism and an open mind, particularly when times are tough.
The truth is, what we believe influences what we achieve. As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t , you’re right.” Stanford University psychologist, and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck writes “For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.”
Successful thinking unquestionably leads to successful behaviour. Constructive, optimistic, open and pragmatic thinking, for example, are more likely to lead to great results than a pessimistic, lethargic or defensive mindset.
An essential part of any CEO’s role is to influence the thinking of their team.
Among the most important steps you can take to do this are:
Lead by example
The attitude you bring to your own role has the greatest impact on your ability to influence how other people choose to think and behave. As Ghandi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It’s essential, for example, that the people on your team observe you stepping up the pace when needed. If you choose to focus on what can’t be done and how challenging the road ahead is, other people are likely to follow suit.
While many factors influence how we think, among the most significant is the strength of our spirit. That is, the depth of energy we have in reserve and can call upon to keep striving or confront challenge. When drained of energy most people struggle to maintain a healthy, positive or strong mindset.
Understand what energises or drains people.
Observe people’s perceptions of reality, how that makes them feel, the impact it has on their energy levels and the subsequent choices they make about how to behave. For example, recognise when someone is hesitating to step forward, because they hold false beliefs about their capabilities.
Coach your team
Like any skill, with practice, we can have the power to choose our thoughts. Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Help people to observe their own thoughts, emotions and behaviours.
Coach them to recognise the how their mindset is impacting on their successes and failures. Encourage them to listen to the conversations that run through their mind. Guide them to recognise when their thoughts are causing them to invest energy in unnecessary worrying or unfounded fears.
Help people to understand the stories they tell themselves about who they are, what they are capable of and where possibilities lie. Never underestimate the impact a lack of self-belief can have on someone’s ability to use the talents they already possess.