As we enter the New Year together, this is the perfect time to reflect upon the ways we can mature and grow as leaders. With the economy beginning to show signs of life, leaders must take stock of their attitude, approach and style and identify ways to improve their performance for the betterment of the employees and the organizations they serve. This process begins by accepting the fact that you may need to adopt a new leadership mindset – a realization awakened by your past experiences, previously missed opportunities and the business trends that demand it.
A mindset shift requires you to break away from old behaviors and habits that may no longer be serving you effectively in your leadership . It demands that you escape your comfort zone and accept that complacency is doing you more harm than good. Adopting a new mindset is the first step in reinventing yourself as a leader, and ultimately regaining your competitive advantage, impact and influence.
Changing your mindset requires you to look at the manner in which you engage people, approach situations, make decisions and evaluate opportunities. It’s about changing unproductive behaviors and throwing ego out the door. This can be extremely difficult, especially when you feel compelled to make behavioral changes in your leadership when circumstances force your hand – for example, as a result of a reorganization, downsizing, merger or acquisition.
As a leader, it’s not about waiting for your business, clients or the marketplace to shape your mindset – but rather about being acutely aware of the dynamics around you to anticipate when it’s time to change. If you wait, and don’t have time to prepare for a mindset shift, that is when it feels forced, uncomfortable and awkward. On the other hand, when you can anticipate and begin to make the required behavioral changes, you are better able to sustain your leadership momentum.
As you continue your leadership journey in 2015, resolve to embrace a new mindset by taking a close look at these eight critical realities of the workplace:
1. A Positive Mental Attitude Fuels Endurance and Performance
21st century leaders see opportunities everywhere, every day, and they make the most of those that cross their path. Many times they are opportunities that others don’t see. A positive mental attitude allows you to drown out the noise, and see opportunity where others see chaos and uncertainty. If you don’t maintain a positive attitude, it’s all too easy to grow tired of the rat race and let bitterness rise to the surface; this creates unnecessary disruption and negatively impacts those we lead.
To adopt a new leadership mindset, stop judging others and begin to see people through a lens of opportunity. Everyone has something to offer and when given the opportunity to reach their full potential, people tend to deliver more than what is expected from them – especially when their leader displays a positive mental attitude, sees the glass as half-full and accepts people for who they are rather than expecting everyone to be just like them. Leaders inspire higher-levels of performance through genuine engagement and choosing the right attitude and outlook that motivates their employees to achieve and succeed.
2. Mental Toughness Makes You Stronger
Mental toughness defines the leadership game. You need wide-angle vision to continuously navigate the terrain that awaits you and to make the big decisions that support your vision. The tension points of leadership can be extremely exhausting and pressure-packed. Nevertheless, the leadership journey must continue with a demeanor unfazed as if it were business as usual.
Mental toughness is acquired over time through trials and tribulations. To be mentally tough means that you have grown accustomed to anticipating crisis and managing change – a by-product of experiencing failure and knowing how to renew and reinvent yourself.
As I have learned from my own experiences, mental toughness begins when you can separate your emotions and remain focused on what matters most. Mental toughness is a mindset; embrace it.
3. Risk Must Be Your Best Friend
As a business leader, I have learned one thing above all about adverse circumstances. It is a certainty that those who venture more, risk more adversity. Risk is always in the gap between opportunity and success. You must therefore make risk your new friend. Risk is at times fickle, but without it the greatest opportunities will not be realized.
Unless you are willing to accept that you must take calculated risks whatever the consequences, your days in leadership are numbered. If you lead with the mindset that risk is your best friend, you will stop being afraid to fail, and instead be empowered to learn from the risks you take.
Remember this: Adversity may make or break you, but it ultimately reveals who you are as a leader.
4. Authenticity Leads to Discovery
When you lead in ways that come most naturally to you, you start to stand out from the crowd and people begin to take notice. People gravitate towards those leaders who are most authentic and have the self-trust to be themselves – not what others want them to be. Being authentic is difficult, especially when you feel the pressure to fit-in-the-culture of the workplace.
But the best leaders are the authentic ones who define the culture and set the standards by which you evaluate and assess other leaders. You remember authentic leaders the most because they unleash their passionate pursuits and unique ways of thinking in everything they do and how they do it. Being authentic is a mindset from which you define your distinction, multiply your influence and allow your leadership to get discovered.
5. What You Read Shapes How You Lead
It’s easy to spot a leader with an identity crisis because they rely on the reuse of other people’s content, rather than looking inside themselves to discover their own creativity of thought and originality of purpose. How many times have you heard your boss or another leader quote a book and then repurpose key messages from that book as if they were their own?
The content you read shapes how you lead and influence others. Leaders gravitate towards content that fuels their knowledge and provides them with the insights and wisdom to keep them on their toes and better serve others. This is fine, but true leadership requires original thought and imagination to truly motivate others, solve problems, and cultivate innovation and initiative.
Continuous improvement is a mindset that demands a commitment to education. Stay ahead of the latest trends to assure your leadership never loses its impact and influence. Educate yourself the right way and be mindful of the content you read and how it shapes the way you think and lead. But never let it become a substitute for your own ideas and ideals.
6. Employees Want to be Heard – So Listen
Empower people and provide them with a platform to express themselves without judgment. Social media has taught us that to lead in the 21st century you must be agile and adaptable towards the needs of others – and this means giving people a voice and listening to their needs, desires and aspirations.
When employees say they want their voices to be heard, they are really saying they want leaders who will not just hear them, but really listen to them. As employees seek more attention, feedback and support, leaders must become more mindful of individual needs in order to more effectively inspire professional development and overall performance. Leaders who listen are able to create trustworthy relationships that are transparent and breed loyalty. You know the leaders who have their employees’ best interests at heart because they truly listen to them.
Listening is a mindset. Be a responsible listener and put it to good use.
7. Competition is Fierce
Today’s workplace is a reflection of the times: uncertain and unstable. As leaders navigate this short-term, fast-paced, tension-filled terrain, they must be careful not to develop an attitude that adds fuel to the fire of this uneasy environment.
The workplace used to be focused on the planning and execution of short, mid-range and long-term growth objectives. It was a place where careers were born and legacies were created. A place that encouraged teamwork, unity and advancement – and fueled by collaboration, partnerships and client relationships. Today, long-term business goals have been eclipsed by a more short-term personal goal: survive the unknown long enough to stay in the game. For leaders, this means adapting to a role where time management is often unmanageable because everything is a priority.
Being competitive is a mindset. Competition is so fierce in the workplace that only leaders with the right strategic focus who never lose momentum will be able to keep their competitive edge.
8. Significance is Greater than Success Alone
The leader that does not seek to be significant cares primarily for recognition, while the leader that seeks to be significant cares primarily for respect. Recognition explodes and subsides, respect reverberates and multiplies. Significance allows your leadership to be more sustainable than success itself.
Seeking to be significant is a mindset that will allow you to build the necessary foundation to effectively deal with the previous seven critical realities you will face as a leader in 2015. Sustaining this new mindset throughout the year will enable you to maximize the full potential of your leadership and better serve others.
As you begin to renew your leadership and adopt a new mindset, let these eight critical realities of the workplace be your guide. It may not always be easy, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult either if you rely on your most authentic self; a positive but mentally tough attitude; empowered employees with a voice that you listen to; risk as your best friend; and significance as your true measure of success.
By Glenn Llopis
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