It is the potent cocktail of our attitudes, beliefs, values and perspectives on life, and one of the most significant predictors of success.
It’s the engine that drives a leader’s daily experience by dictating thoughts, mood, tone and behaviour and, in so doing, determines the quality of their influence and impact.
Great leaders are a product of how they think. Their mindset influences their conduct as the filter through which they view their work world and the model they use to engage in it.
They exemplify the behaviour they want to see in others. They view their mindset as a tool to be used to achieve their vision – as a vehicle to help them reach that strategic destination. “What do I need to accomplish and what line of thinking will get me there?”
Great leaders have honed the skill of managing their mindset on a minute-by-minute basis and are able to make strategic choices about the thought patterns they entertain, the silent messages of the mind.
In a world of practicalities, leaders set goals and create action plans to bring those goals to fruition. They can engage in the magic of mindset in much the same way – programming their thinking with the beliefs and emotions that will actively attract the business result they are looking for.
Essentially, great leaders perform like movie directors, envisioning the ending, then writing the ‘inner’ script and directing their team through the production.
If we listen carefully, our internal voice will tell us everything we need to know about the quality of our impact as a leader. What are we implicitly modelling? Are we fixed or flexible, biased or inclusive, judgemental or accepting, didactic or democratic, a contributor or an owner, pessimistic or optimistic, reactive or proactive, empathetic or disconnected, confident or fearful, defensive or solution-focused? Which of our belief-systems are working for us, and which aren’t?
In a sense, our mindsets are ‘fixed’ until they’re not – until we intentionally move to transform them by perceiving them as a matter of personal responsibility and choice.
Transforming mindset as a choice offers freedom from surrendering our control to old, limiting beliefs and produces instead what Dr Susan David calls ‘emotional agility’. She states that “… emotionally agile people are not immune to stresses and setbacks. The key difference is they know how to gain critical insight about situations and interactions from their feelings, and use this knowledge to adapt, align their values and actions, and make changes to bring the best of themselves forward.”
The solution to overriding undesirable default thinking is simple and yet can be so challenging. It takes continual self-awareness and mental effort to shift a lifetime of deep-seated programming, but it can be done and great leaders do it all the time.
They are mindset alchemists.