If you want to become a more successful leader, then it makes sense to develop a leadership mindset.
After all, your mindset determines how you think about yourself and how you interact with the world around you. What you believe and how you frame these beliefs influence your emotions, decisions, and relationships.
In terms of leadership, your mindset affects how you lead as well as your interactions with your team and colleagues. Inevitably, your mindset greatly impacts your effectiveness as a leader.
What is a Leadership Mindset?
According to Psychology Today, a leadership mindset is “the attitudes, beliefs, and expectations you hold that act as the foundation of who you are, how you lead, and the ways in which you interact with your team.”
Since what you believe affects your actions and your ability to lead, it is essential to cultivate a strong leadership mindset. Here are six mental shifts to help you start thinking and acting more like the leader you strive to be.
1) Work on Having a Positive Attitude
Whatever you focus on is what you will attract.
Obviously, as a leader, you want to be a magnet for good people, bigger opportunities, and success. But, having a positive outlook takes practice and effort.
When the going gets rough, you may be tempted to focus on what’s not working and your disappointment. Instead, be aware of your emotions and reactions so that you can consciously decide to look at each situation with a positive lens.
Because you will see and find whatever you’re looking for, you must work at focusing on the positive versus the negative. For every situation or interaction, ask yourself what you can learn, how you can grow, and how you can add value. Don’t allow counterproductive feelings to weigh you down.
Have you ever noticed that attitude is contagious? You have the power to affect someone in a positive or negative way through your attitude. It makes sense that people will gravitate to you when you lift them up and make them feel good about themselves. This is one way to attract more team members, grow your business, and be a better leader.
I like to say: no stinkin’ thinkin’! It’s essential to be more positive because you attract what you are, not what you want. A leadership mindset often demands an optimistic outlook and attitude since people look to you to set the tone and be a good example.
Also, positive people are more resilient. In fact, two people may do the same activities but have different outcomes. It’s not necessarily “how” they did it but the attitude and philosophy that made the difference in the results.
As Tony Robbins says, “Success in life is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics—what you do doesn’t matter if you aren’t in the right mindset.”
2) Think Like a Winner
While a positive attitude will undoubtedly serve you well, thinking like a winner is another leadership mindset that can make a big difference in your success.
You see, winners focus on winning. They see themselves fulfilling their dreams. So, if you want to achieve your goals, you must visualize yourself reaching them.
Stop your inner voice from working against you. One tactic is to switch your focus. Transform your thinking to concentrate on:
- what you can do, not what you can’t do
- where you’re going, not where you’ve been
- what you can control, not what you can’t control
Get into the leadership habit of setting goals regularly so that you always have a plan. Intentional, strategic action will keep your mind centered on attaining your goals so that you avoid distractions and negative thoughts.
Also, stop the self-limiting beliefs. If you put yourself down or don’t believe in yourself, then you will stand in your own way. This is so important because your mindset and expectations influence your behavior at a subconscious level. You can end up causing your negative beliefs to come true by expecting them to come true, which then compels you to act in a way that makes them come true.
Psychology Today points out that “you may unconsciously affirm your beliefs by having certain attitudes, ignoring the positive, amplifying the negative, and behaving in ways that contribute and strengthen your predictions.” This is commonly referred to as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Henry Ford was right when he said “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”
3) Expect to Do the Work
Overnight successes are the exception, not the rule. Success usually demands consistent hard work over the long run. So, set your expectations accordingly and prepare yourself for doing the work for as long as necessary.
Don’t plant a seed today and expect a harvest tomorrow. Yes, there are ways to make your path easier and people who can support you. However, experience, expertise, and good leadership take time and effort. You can’t control the results, but you can control the activities that will eventually lead you to the results.
Doing the work yourself will give you perspective, insight, and understanding. You’ll formulate your own success tips and learn the in’s and out’s to be able to train and motivate your team. Your sacrifices and hardship teach you valuable lessons that you can then share and use to lead others on their journeys.
I know this firsthand! Over 20 years ago, I was on government assistance, had my car repossessed, and was a college dropout who couldn’t feed my family.
Thankfully, my mentors and coaches helped me to see that I had stopped doing the things that had helped me to make progress in the first place. I needed to keep up with the work I had been doing. That meant shifting my expectations to pursue more consistent hard work and to keep going.
And, that brings me to the next tip.
4) Stay Strong Enough Long Enough
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or CEO of a large company, you’ll need the perseverance to keep going.
Initially, you’ll do more work than what you’re getting paid. But, you must keep going in spite of the challenges. You’ve got to push through the fire to get to the other side. That’s what leaders do! Eventually, after patience and dedication, you’ll get paid for more than you’re doing.
The journey will be full of obstacles. You’ll face a rollercoaster of emotions, both highs and lows. Typically, it takes a year to get the basics. Then it takes another year to get good at the basics. Over time, you’ll excel and succeed.
But, you’ve got to stay strong enough long enough and plug away to reap the benefits of hard work. The work you do and the adversity you experience makes you better at relating to your team. It’s who you become in the process that builds your strength, fortitude, and skillfulness.
To develop a leadership mindset of unwavering persistence, remember why you got into the business in the first place. Hint: it wasn’t about the money!
I suggest that you assign an emotional attachment to money—like family—to identify your reason for starting your business. That’s what I did. I decided that “I will until”—meaning, I will do what I need to do until I reach my goals. My family was (and still is) my reason for pursuing this path, and that has kept me focused on moving forward.
5) Value Your Time
Many people waste hours on trivial activities that distract them from leading the life they desire. This happens as a result of different factors, including the lack of goal-setting and good time management.
If you don’t believe that your time is valuable, then you’ll allow other people to decide your priorities. But, other people shouldn’t be in charge of your destiny! As the leader of your own life, you must value time so that you can prioritize—for yourself and your team members.
Pay close attention to how you’re spending your time. Track your daily tasks and activities in an app or on paper for a week. Then review what you spent your time doing, decide what changes you need to make, and make them.
Also, schedule your time on a calendar to block off portions of your day to get your work (and fun!) done. This practice will keep you focused on your priorities and improve your time management.
A calendar prepares you for those times when someone—or even your own brain!—tries to pull you in a different direction. It means less distractions, more intentional time use, and better productivity.
To be clear, this advice goes beyond time blocking. Lost time is never regained. That means no matter how much money you make, there’s no magic wand to give you more hours in your lifetime.
Make sure to prioritize the right tasks and activities because whatever you’re doing at any moment means you’re not doing something else. You can’t do everything and be everywhere! That’s why how you spend your time illustrates what you value and whether you respect your time.
Remember, if you don’t value your time, no one else will either.
6) Choose Your Associations Wisely
When you’re developing a leadership mindset, it’s not only important to pay attention to how you spend your time but also who you spend it with.
If you show me your circle of friends, I’ll show you your future! That’s because you become the average of the people you hang around with the most. Those around you shape your thoughts and beliefs. So, be mindful of your sphere of influence.
Your peer group either lifts you up or brings you down. Raise your expectations and elevate your potential by associating with the right people. Ask yourself:
- What are my associations doing to me or what are they doing for me?
- Who are the people I want to spend more time with?
- Should I limit my time with anyone due to their toxic or negative energy?
Surround yourself with optimistic people who tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Invest in relationships and connections that you can trust and that don’t sabotage what you’ve built.
The same goes for books, courses, training, etc. Make sure whatever you’re consuming is worthy of your attention and time. Select reliable resources from experienced, ethical people who deliver the information in an inspirational manner. This will help to protect you from negativity and potentially bad advice.
Not sure if a person is good to be around? Supportive colleagues encourage you when you have doubts and failings. When you have wins and hit goals, they celebrate with you. On the other hand, toxic people tend to be pessimistic and cynical. They are often unsupportive and make you feel bad about yourself.
Either way, your relationships will likely impact your reactions, emotions, and perceptions. So, be intentional about your associations and who you allow into your inner circle.
The Fastest Way to Develop a Better Leadership Mindset
Experience is probably the best way to learn firsthand how to overcome adversity and develop the mindset of a good leader. But the fastest way is to work with a mentor or coach whose expertise can fast-track your own personal and professional growth.
Books, online courses, and training can teach you some helpful lessons. However, an experienced coach can zero in on the areas where you need help, which is something that other training can’t accomplish quickly. So, consider hiring a leadership coach who will work with you on growing your team and hitting your goals.
If nothing else, give the leadership tips above a try. Start with one and incorporate it into your life. Mindset shifts and lifestyle changes take time, especially if you’re trying to change your thinking or behavior without guidance. Be patient with yourself and don’t get discouraged. Over time and with practice, you’ll improve your mindset so that you can serve as a better leader to your team.