Some great leaders are born that way. But, in reality, most aren’t. In fact, it’s estimated only 10 percent of people are natural-born leaders.
What do the others do?
They learn how to lead. They cultivate excellent leadership skills through trial and error and spend time in self-examination. They accept feedback and enlist the help of mentors. They understand becoming a great leader is a process.
They develop a leadership mindset.
Let’s take a closer look at what a leadership mindset is, why it’s important, and how to start developing it.
What is a Leadership Mindset?
A leadership mindset is a set of beliefs and attitudes that shape how an individual impacts and influences others. The mindset shapes thoughts, motivations, and experiences purposefully to fit into a leadership role successfully.
Many parks maintenance professionals get promoted into leadership roles thanks to their hard work and dedication. They are experts at taking care of maintenance issues. But there’s a good chance they never had the opportunity to develop their leadership skills.
To be a successful leader, the mindset has to shift from being an expert to being a manager. The focus moves to strategic thinking and ensuring your team has the resources to get things done. A leader in the maintenance department may quickly discover their job becomes less doing and more overseeing, guidance, and finding solutions.
Why is Mindset Important?
The way a leader thinks about their ability and the abilities of others is directly related to the outcomes. A good leadership mindset reacts to information differently--especially challenges and adversity.
For example, say some team members complain about the mowing assignments you set up. They think the schedules are too complicated and don’t team up the staff effectively. You have your reasons for how the plan, and you know they don’t see the whole picture.
Some leaders may take this as an insult--a challenge of authority. They may stand by their decisions without listening to the feedback. They tell their teams that that’s the way it will be without allowing further discussion.
Other leaders see this as an opportunity to collaborate and develop a better plan--not a blow to the ego. They view the feedback as a constructive way to see an issue from other perspectives. Those with a leadership mindset may take time to explain decisions. They entertain discussions about possible improvements.
See the difference?
Of course, adopting a leadership mindset isn’t as easy as more traditional leadership skills development. Skill development could usually be measured and fits a neat process--assessment, developmental plan, action, reviewing and feedback, reassess.
Mindset, on the other hand, exists in a private space. It manifests in many ways, but it’s not tangible and measurable. Mindset training isn’t a linear process. It’s a concerted effort of direct experience, “unlearning” ineffective attitudes and beliefs, reflection, and constructing a new personal narrative.
What Contributes to a Successful Leadership Mindset?
A Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is a belief that you can change your abilities, talents, and traits--even if it takes some work. Failure isn’t a negative thing--it’s an opportunity for growth and developing skills.
A leader with a growth mindset believes that situations and team abilities are not set in stone. The team is a dynamic, evolving ecosystem that will thrive given the right conditions and challenges.
A growth mindset makes a leader excited to take on that new renovation project or adopt new technology that will help improve workflow.
Focus on Progress
Some leaders spend most of their time preventing problems and avoiding losses. Sure, problems and losses affect workflow. But this could make leaders less likely to develop new strategies that do more than put a bandaid over a bad situation.
By changing the focus to winning and gaining, leaders can create new solutions for old issues. They also get the team more confident and committed to moving forward.
Authenticity and Vulnerability
One thing good AND bad leaders have in common: they are all human.
Yet sometimes it’s hard to see a leader that way--especially if they are really bad or good leaders.
A team respects a leader that shows integrity, honesty, and follow through. If the leader consistently keeps their word, then it’s likely the team will do the same.
Also, it’s okay not to have all the answers and to ask for help. It’s a sign that you want what’s best for the team, and you have the tenacity to seek new feedback. A leader that welcomes new ideas illustrates the value of employees’ opinions.
So show your “human” side. And treat those around you like they are valuable contributors.
Being the Inspiration
Influential leaders help employees discover their own meaning in work. When we feel our work has purpose and meaning, we’re more content with what we do.
We’ve all known those leaders--hopefully--that make everyone around them better. They conduct themselves professionally, assertively, and deliberately. They handle challenges with ease and obstacles with grace. People look up to these leaders and benefit from their skills.
3 Tips for Developing Your Leadership Mindset
Here are three things that will help you develop a better mindset:
- Listen to the voice inside of you. It’s easier said than done because sometimes that voice seems to be on autopilot. Being more mindful of your inner dialogue will help you better understand your mindset’s tone.
- Talk back to that voice with a growth mindset. Is that voice worried you or your team will fail? Or someone will find out if you made a mistake? Then it’s time to get that voice under control. Answer back to that “preventing” voice by saying, “Sure, it may not work, but, even if it doesn’t, we’re going to learn a lot while doing it.”
- Follow through with what you tell yourself. As you improve your inner dialogue, take action. It’s probably one of the quickest ways to adopt a leadership mindset because you’re seeing the tangible results of your new way of thinking.
As a leader, you influence people every day. You have the opportunity to be an inspiration and voice for your agency.
If you feel the team has room for growth and improvement, start by listening to how you talk to yourself. As your inner dialogue changes, so will your approach to your team.