Leader Mindsets #1

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

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Quick recap of recent posts:

Combining the two: If you want to (1) be someone that others want to follow and (2) increase your influence within your personal sphere, then you must diagnose and improve your mindsets. (Exciting somewhat related news: I will be releasing a personal mindset assessment soon).

Mindsets are our mental fuel filters that fuel how we think (decision making & problem solving), learn, and behave. For most of us, they are invisible glasses that we are wearing that we largely unconscious of. But, our mindsets shape how we operate in the world. For example, in the picture below, the two inmates are exposed to the same view, yet they each see something different, and as such, they behave differently.

The reality is that If we want to improve ourselves, our influence, and our effectiveness, that means that we need to change the lenses that we are using the view the world… we need to change our mindsets.

But, this is cutting new ground. You see, no one (or only a few people) is talking about the importance of mindsets related to leadership and being a positive influence. 90% of all leadership development material and trainings is focused on changing and improving behaviors (e.g., provide consideration, goal setting, setting clear expectations).

While leaders definitely need to improve their behaviors, if they do not improve both their behaviors AND their mindsets, the development will be empty. Let me give you a couple examples to demonstrate this point.

Example 1: A manager at a local bank has a mindset that is tuned into his personal success. He goes to a leadership training and they teach him how to more effectively set goals. He then comes back to the bank and guides all of the employees in setting a goal for improved customer service scores. But, because his mindset is tuned into his personal success, that mindset reveals itself when he tells all of his employees, “we need to reach this goal so that I can double my bonus this year.”

Example 2: A manager at another bank goes to a different training that addressed mindsets in addition to goal setting. At the training, he was diagnosed as having a self-focused mindset. But, after treatment, he was able to change his mindset to being follower-focused. Thus, when he gets back to the bank and guides all of his employees in goal setting around customer service, his new mindset reveals itself when he tells all of his employees, “I want all of you to be recognized for providing the best customer service in our region at our next regional conference.”

Based on these examples:

  • Is a focus on just behavioral improvement going to have the same effect as a focus on behavioral and mindset improvement?


  • Which of these leaders would you prefer to follow?

In all, to become a more effective leader, it is crucial that you focus on understanding and improving your mindsets. I will discuss this further in my next blog post, where I reveal some findings from my ongoing research on leader mindsets.

In the meantime, let me share a quick research finding and suggestion. Managers who see their subordinates as people that can grow and develop (i.e., as trees) give higher quality and quantity feedback than managers who see their subordinates as people that cannot grow and develop (i.e., as boulders). Only about 50% of managers see their employees as trees.

Moral: If you don’t already, start seeing your employees as people that can grow and develop. It will positively change how you interact with and influence them.

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