The Role of Mindsets in Leadership Development

Leadership development historically has two basic approaches:  focusing on personal development and targeting an individual’s job skills. These were enough in a relatively stable environment.  However, in a dynamic and fast changing world, leaders must be adept at dealing with changing environments. This new contextual approach to leadership fills the gap between personal and organizational mastery.

Wise leaders collect, decipher, weigh, and use information from all points of view to capitalize on opportunities and avoid being blindsided by trends due to narrow perspectives. A limited frame of reference creates blinders.  This lens is also called current driving Mindset. If we ignore some data, we open ourselves to unnecessary risk. This current driving Mindset is one of six Mindsets which enable you to assess opportunities, threats, and risks characteristic of your organization. Seeing the big picture ensures that your actions, plans, and decisions target the right outcome and address the critical challenges.    

Mental agility remains a key leadership practice. Leaders who have foresight to see reality will be more proactive. To put this in practical terms, a leader who elects to act when noticing a fire code violation offers more value than one who waits until they see flames. It saves lives, property, and opportunities for the future.

Leaders with ability to make decisions or judgments which balance short-term and long-term priorities play an invaluable role moving an organization forward. It is often the ability to change minds and gain commitment of others to produce results, depends on collecting and evaluating data from six Mindsets:

Inventing

The desire to develop new ideas, products, and services is high in the Inventing Mindset. This Mindset also seeks new internal synergies and cross-functional innovation.

Catalyzing

A focus on fast action to meet customer requirements, keeping existing customers and building the brand and beating the competition drive this Catalyzing Mindset.

Developing

Building infrastructure, creating policies and systems are the focus of the Developing Mindset as are se goals and establishing policies.

Performing

Process improvement, safety, and profit margins are in focus in the Performing Mindset. In this Mindset, quality, improving productivity and performance metric are in the forefront.

Protecting

The Protecting Mindset includes developing talent and building the internal culture of an organization. It also concentrates on succession planning, team collaboration, and engagement.

Challenging

The desire to test assumptions, create strategic options and adjust the business plan is primary in the Challenging Mindset. Discerning and spreading best practices, seeking new alliances and niches are key to sustainability.

Neglecting to comprehensively collect and examine data generates blunders.  Consider the fate of Blackberry, Kodak, and Blockbuster.

The writing was on the wall, but they failed to see it.  Their limited situational awareness blinded them to the need for change.  Situational awareness is the missing link in leadership development.  It provided leaders with the ability to see what is on the wall, around the corner, and within reach.  It is time we help leaders effectively read the realities they are confronting.

Expanding Perceptions and Consensus for Change

Today, one of the most valuable talents is the ability to grasp fluid circumstances and gain agreement for a change initiative.   While there is an imperative to change, change creates stress, defensiveness, and resistance.

It is rarely greeted with unabashed enthusiasm (unless it is a pay increase).  So there is a temptation to demand that everyone gets on board, but this provides short-term acquiescence, not active support.

Instead of pushing change by fiat, we can take another approach and commit to expanding our perceptions and situational understanding.  It means accepting that we operate from a limited perception.  For example,  what we see as an uncompromising opportunity can also be seen by others as an ominous threat.  To reach consensus we must expand our perceptions by asking questions and listening without judgment.  We must be willing to see what others see.

For example, when you look at the following illustration, how many squares do you see?

The common answer is 16 or 17.  And they are correct since it is clear that every single box and the whole illustration are squares.  Yet, if we change our perception, it becomes apparent that groupings of four single squares also form a square.  We just did not see all 30 squares with our first look.   And if we did follow this typical pattern, we fall into the over 90% of the responders that answer 16 or 17. (See PUZZLERSWORLD).  This exercise points to the reality that when we find an answer we stop searching.  Now, this exercise was simple so it is easy to jump to a conclusion. However, when we try to gain agreement, we need to expand our willingness to investigate and understand the issue from all perspectives.   We must agree that instead of thinking we know everything, we accept the need to learn more.   A comprehensive exploration leads to the new insights, solutions and aha moments.

Searching beyond initial reactions,  considering other interpretations, understanding constraints and factoring in trends reveal perspectives. These insights highlight ways to build a consensus.  In my experience, sticking points and loggerheads usually focus on different aspects.  What is essential to one is not critical to another.  Probing reveals new insight and it paves the way for win-win resolutions. Open-ended questions reveal perspectives that can be discussed, modified or sequenced into a plan that gains active support. Consensus takes time and effort but it is delivering results.

Are you willing to look beyond your initial conclusions? If so, you must ask questions covering every facet.  Not only will this build rapport, it will surface new facts that can form the foundation for true consensus.

A version of  “Expanding Perceptions and Consensus for Change” was first published on 4 May 2018 at BizCatalyst360.

Success Mindsets For Astute Scanning

We all recognize that better decisions follow reliable data collection. However, obtaining it remains a challenge. Too often we accept a penetrating glimpse of the obvious or past practice since it is safe and efficient to keep doing what we have always done.  Unfortunately, this tendency keeps us in an echo chamber where old assumptions reside and reverberate.Read More

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Reward System Surprises

“Reading this brilliant book was both a pleasure and a gift. Situational Mindsets has not only helped me to analyze my own leadership tendencies and skills, but it caused me to take notice of the changes I need to make within my own organization to gain a competitive advantage in today’s world.”

David M.R. Covey, CEO of SMCOV, Coauthor of Trap Tales

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