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Why mindset is an important quality in leadership

How great leaders use their mindset to their advantage.

Mindset is one of life’s greatest determiners. It’s comprised of our attitudes, beliefs, values and perspective on life, and is one of the most significant predictors of success.

This, undoubtedly, extends to leadership. Mindset is the engine that drives a leader’s daily experience by dictating thoughts, mood, tone, and behaviour, which determines the quality of their influence and impact. Great leaders are a result of how they think. Their mindset is a prism through which they view their work world and the model they use to engage in it.

What sets great leaders apart?

Great leaders see their mindset as a success tool to be used to achieve their strategic vision – “What do I need to accomplish and what line of thinking will get me there?” They lead by example, and choose not to rest upon any ineffective parts of their default playbook. Instead, they shift and transform their thoughts when necessary to evoke a desired outcome.

Mindset management is a honed skill of great leaders, who are capable of making strategic choices about the thought patterns they entertain and where they will allow their mind to venture.

The logistics of leadership

In a world of practicalities, leaders set goals and create action plans to bring those goals to fruition. They can engage their 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 film directors, envisioning the ending, then writing the ‘inner’ script and directing their team through the production.

Gut instinct tells us everything we need to know about the quality of our current impact as a leader. Are we fixed or flexible, biased or inclusive, judgmental 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?

Can you transform your mindset?

In a sense, our mindsets are ‘fixed’. In order to make a change, we need to intentionally transform our mindsets by perceiving them as a matter of personal responsibility and choice. They can be bent, reshaped or totally revised, based on intention.

Purposefully transforming mindset offers freedom from old limiting beliefs and produces what Dr Susan David calls ‘emotional agility’.

“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,” says David.

The solution to over-riding 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 seeded programming, but it can be done and great leaders do it all the time. They are mindset alchemists.

Muffy Churches is a Sydney-based executive coach, speaker, and leadership specialist. She is director of Beyond Focal Point, and author of ‘Coach Yourself’ (2016).

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Mark Cvetkovski
Mark Cvetkovski

Great article, Muffy! Shows that emotional agility can be put to good use in just about anything! What are your thoughts on this for hospitality business owners?

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