Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many great leaders. I’ve watched them interact with their people and observed the results they’ve achieved.
I’ve also noticed a pattern in how these leaders think and act.
This pattern seems to emerge regardless of leadership role, industry, or location: Here are a few quick examples:
- I taught a leadership program to a group of government officials in Iceland. I saw the pattern.
- I consulted with a manager who works for a regional business in Malaysia. I saw the pattern.
- I coached a senior leadership team at a Fortune 100 in the States. I saw the pattern.
I have come to realize that truly great leaders SET themselves (& others) up for success in three areas:
(Before you write a comment about spelling and grammar, I do realize that I’m taking liberty with these words.)
Here’s a brief explanation of each area and questions for you to answer as you assess your own performance.
1. Choose the Right Mind-SET
Success begins with the right mindset. Consider these ideas…
- Creation happens first in the mind and then in the physical world.
- Poor performance often follows a bad attitude; the right attitude typical proceeds exceptional results.
- Failing to think through a situation in advance often prohibits a leader from taking the right action in the moment.
Great leaders invest the required time and energy to achieve the right mindset.
- They think through their day and prepare themselves mentally for success.
- They pause before a meeting and focus on desired outcomes.
- They chose their actions from the right perspective.
Do they mess-up at times? Of course – they are human.
However, they approach the occasional blunder with the right mindset. They ask what they can learn from the mistake. They commit to not making the same mistake twice. They move on.
Consider these questions about your mindset:
- How open are you to changing your paradigm in the face of new information?
- Are you hanging on to old perspectives that aren’t serving you well?
- Do you frequently check yourself to ensure you have the right mindset when you enter a meeting, start a new project, go on a client call, etc.?
- What should you do today to improve how you approach choosing the right mindset?
2. Develop the Right Skill-SET
Great leaders invest time and energy to build on their existing skills. They also work to add new skills when new situations change.
If the company is looking to enter a new market, these leaders spend time learning about potential customers and competitors. If a new technology emerges, they work to understand its advantages and threats.
These leaders also know that they don’t need to personally possess all the skills. So, they surround themselves with people who bring different skills, knowledge, and capabilities to the team.
Consider these questions about your skill set:
- Are you actively learning new things and enhancing your skills? Or, have you grown complacent?
- Have you created a team that complements one another? Or, are you failing to create enough diversity?
- What skills are currently missing on your team that you should proactively work to develop?
3. Access and Properly Use the Right Tool-SET
A colleague once told me that a tool can be used for one of three purposes.
- As intended: A sales report can be used to assess current results, learn what is working, and chart a course for the future.
- As a weapon: The same sales report can be used to verbally hit someone over the head, creating fear and isolation.
- As a crutch: The same sales report can also be used to lean on as an excuse for poor performance. Sales people argue about the report’s timing, accuracy, etc.
Great leaders ensure the right tools are available and properly used.
They become loyal to the results the tool produces, not the tool itself. If the tool is not serving the organization well, great leaders tweak, toss, or replace it.
Consider these questions about your toolset:
- Do you and your people have the tools needed to effectively deliver results?
- Are you strangely loyal to tools that are no longer meeting your needs?
- What could you do today to put better tools in place?
I wish you the best as you develop yourself, your people, and your culture!
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a sought after writer, speaker, and global leadership consultant. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.