Years ago a colleague, friend, and extraordinary sales instructor, Mary Silverstone-Landdeck, in a training she was doing noted that "mindset should come before skillset" as a necessary first step in some learning. This idea of first establishing the correct mindset resonated and we've found it particularly important for new leaders as they form their leadership point-of-view, and seek to build necessary skillsets. These leadership mindsets frame, and motivate, the acquisition of needed competence.
For example, Theory Y, Abundance, and Collaborative mindsets combine to automatically motivate a skillset like
Active Listening. Just learning the behaviors associated with
Active Listening probably won't be adequate for true change. You'll need to explore your values and assumptions first. For example, do you have positive assumptions about the person you're listening too, do you value consensus decision making, and are you worried about competing with them? These beliefs either motivate, or hinder, authentic active listening. And as listeners we are truly good at detecting authenticity, especially as revealed in non-verbal cues.
To help frame leadership mindsets, here is our current list of necessary leadership beliefs and assumptions. These are not skillsets, but points of view in how you frame the world, and as such are essential to establishing an emotional and intellectual outlook as a leader. As a successful leader you first need to zoom out and approach others by believing:
1. Theory Y (vs Theory X)
I believe that people are basically good, and they do want to contribute and do well, versus a belief that they are naturally lazy and need constant supervision. I know that expectations, both positive and negative, can color outcomes.
2. Internal Locus of Control
I believe that I can make a difference, not that life is determined by luck and powerful others. I do know that there are forces and people I can't control, but in the end I believe in myself and my ability to influence the world.
3. Leadership Identification
I vocationally identify with the leadership role and see the world through a leader's eyes. I get satisfaction from the accomplishments of others on my team. I want to be the maestro, and I get my personal fulfillment from conducting the orchestra, versus being a skillful individual contributor (playing first violin).
4. Consensus and Involvement
I believe in collaboration and it's my default approach to problem solve. I trust in consensus decision making and I'm inclusive. I know that this approach improves both the quality of decisions (I get more information) and commitment (through more involvement) to those decisions.
5. Abundance versus Scarcity
I believe in abundance, and have the mindset that there is plenty to go around (versus a need to compete for scarce resources, and win in every arena).
comes from a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is a paradigm that is grounded in my belief that 'there is more than enough' for everyone. Alternatively, I know that a scarcity mindset is a more destructive mindset that there will never be enough, resulting in feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety.
It is true that not every competency needs a pre-requisite mindset, but some of the most important do. So it will be hard to be a truly authentic leader without first exploring these personal beliefs.