Elevated leaders are leaders who operate on a higher plane than most leaders. These leaders are positively transformational. In Good to Great, Jim Collins calls them “Level 5 Leaders.” In Multipliers, Liz Wiseman calls them just that: “Multipliers.”

Often, the best leaders we can think of fall into this category. Historically, it is people Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Rosa Parks. More currently, it is people like Alan Mulally, Frances Hesselbein, Anne Mulcahy, and Satya Nadella.

There are two interconnected reasons why these leaders, and any elevated leader, are able to have the transformational positive impact that they have:

  1. They are vertically developed to the degree that they operate with a Mind 3.0 operating system
  2. They are fundamentally driven by four Success Mindsets

Elevated leaders operate with a Mind 3.0 operating system

Adult development psychologists have found that all adults can increase in their cognitive and emotional sophistication. But, they also have found that not all adults do increase in their cognitive and emotional sophistication.

In fact, they have found that there are three general levels of cognitive and emotional sophistication that one can operate from. I call them Mind 1.0, Mind 2.0, and Mind 3.0. At each of these levels, the people in those levels possess an internal operating system programmed to obtain different needs:

  • Mind 1.0 = Programmed to be safe, comfortable, and belonging
  • Mind 2.0 = Programmed to stand out, advance, get ahead, and be recognized (note how these people are willing to put their safety, comfort, and belonging to the side in order to stand out)
  • Mind 3.0 = Programmed to contribute, elevate, and lift others (note how these people are “wired” to focus on adding value to something or someone external to themselves)

Here are what adult development researchers have found as they have studied adults at large and executives:

Vertical Development Example 1

Elevated leaders are individuals who operate with this Mind 3.0 operating system.

Elevated leaders possess Success Mindsets

A foundational reason why elevated leaders possess a Mind 3.0 operating system is because they possess four cognitively and emotionally sophisticated mindsets, which I call “Success Mindsets.” They are:

While many consider mindsets as being “our attitude toward something,” they are so much more than that.

Both psychology and neuroscience identify mindsets as the foundational mechanisms in our mind (they are a specific type of neural connection called cortico-cortical neural connections) that dictate how we perceive our world, interpret our world, and respond to our world.

It just so happens that most people, those who operate with Mind 1.0 and Mind 2.0 operating systems, possess justifiable and self-protective mindsets that are low in their cognitive and emotional sophistication. Such mindsets include: fixed, closed, prevention, and inward mindsets.

Elevated leaders have done the internal work necessary to literally rewire their mind such that they have been able to let go of the self-protective mindsets and adopt more cognitively and emotionally sophisticated mindsets.

The Combination of Mind 3.0 with Success Mindsets

Recognizing this interplay between one’s internal operating system and mindsets, it allows us to ask and answer the question: What is an elevated leader like?

This table is an attempt to answer this question.

Table What Does an Elevated Leader Look Like 2

How to Develop Elevated Leaders

There are two forms of development. They are:

  • Horizontal development – Adding new knowledge, skills, and capabilities
  • Vertical development – Elevating one’s ability to make meaning of their world in more cognitively and emotionally sophisticated ways

95%+ of all development efforts focus on horizontal development. And, unfortunately, such development is only incrementally helpful in the process of developing elevated leaders.

But, it is only vertical development that can transformationally help people:

  • Develop success mindsets
  • Upgrade their internal operating system
  • Become elevated leaders

If you would like to learn more about vertical development and how it can be used to develop elevated leaders, download this white paper: Vertical Leadership Development.