Over the next several weeks, I want to share examples of people I have worked or interacted with that are at different stages of their personal vertical development journeys.

The purpose of doing this is to help you:

  • Better see what vertical development looks and feels like
  • See the value of focusing on your vertical development
  • Be inspired, as I have been, by the courage of others who are letting go of who they have been and embracing an elevated version of themselves

Last week, I introduced you to Tracy, who is elevating from Mind 1.0 to Mind 2.0.

This week, I want to introduce you to Todd, a CEO who has found success with his Mind 2.0 internal operating system, and he is having a hard time seeing the limitations of his Mind 2.0 internal operating system.

Example #2 – Todd

Todd is in his 50’s and is the CEO of a growing mid-sized business with about 500 employees and counting.

Todd has a long track record of success throughout his career. It was this track record of business success that landed him in this role about three years ago.

I met Todd because his head of HR, Victoria, reached out to see if I could help Todd and his executive team.

Victoria is quick to admit that Todd gets things done and has taken the organization in a good direction. But, she also feels like Todd’s leadership causes collateral damage both within and below his executive team, and she is frustrated that she has to play “clean up” as often as she does.

We structured a program where I informed the executive team about vertical development and mindsets, we had all of the executives take my mindset assessment, and I engaged in a series of coaching calls with each executive to personalize the vertical development and mindset ideas to them and come up with a personal vertical development plan.

Todd had all of the signals of a Mind 2.0 leader and that became confirmed through his mindset assessment and coaching calls that I had with him.

Mindset Results & Coaching Call

Across the executive team, I was honestly a little surprised to find that they had very open, promotion, and outward mindsets. While this is great, the place where they struggled was with a fixed mindset, and Todd’s results indicated that he was the most fixed-minded of the group.

It is helpful to point out that people with a fixed mindset do not believe that they or others can change their intelligence, abilities, and talents. This generally leads to the following subsequent beliefs:

  • They are the same person that they were 10, 20, 30 years ago, and they will continue to be that same person for the next 10, 20, 30 years
  • There is no point in developing themselves
  • The best way to improve a workforce is to hire top talent, not develop talent
  • If people aren’t doing their job at a high level, it is best to fire them, put them in a different position, or have them partner with someone who has the talents that they don’t have

Knowing of Todd’s fixed mindset, I had the hunch that Todd wouldn’t be very interested in talking about how he could improve as a leader and would resist making a personal development plan.

Being a hard-charging, Type-A, Mind 2.0 leader, Todd quickly tried to take over our coaching call.

He essentially said:

Look, I know I am not a perfect leader, but I have always been successful. It takes a special talent to have the success that I have had. I know I have that talent.

This isn’t new. I have always had this talent. So, I am not sure that your program is going to do much to change who I am.

Is my executive team perfect? No. But, we have made adjustments, including getting rid of people who don’t have what it takes and repositioning others. This has not always been easy, and there have been times where I offended my team members. But, after I smoothed things out, we are now firing on all cylinders.

Do you see the different elements of a fixed mindset and Mind 2.0 thinking that is focused on standing out, advancing, and getting ahead?

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My Response

While I feel I understand where he is coming from, I also believe that he is limiting himself. He could be operating at a higher Mind 3.0 level with a growth mindset.

The reality is that his Mind 2.0 has made him incredibly driven, but the way that he operates is that he will drive and drive and drive until he has been successful, even if that means damaging relationships in the process.

His belief is that what has “got him here” will “get him there.” And, he may not be wrong. One problem with this stance is that you never really know if what has worked in the past will be an inhibitor to future success until, usually, it is too late.

Life is teaching me that generally, what has gotten us where we are at is not what will continue to work into the future. And, facing that is not easy. It effectively requires that we turn our back on who we have been and what we have done and step into an unknown future.

Moving Forward to Mind 3.0

If Todd wants to level up in his leadership, he is going to have to become willing to investigate his fixed mindset beliefs and assumptions, and question:

  • The degree to which they are currently serving him
  • Whether other beliefs and mindsets might better serve him

If he does this honestly, he will find that his current beliefs and assumptions, while might be serving him in some ways, ultimately put a cap on his effectiveness as a leader. If he discovers this, he will have to work through his self-protective and self-promotion beliefs to create the space to take on the more outward, purpose-focused beliefs associated with Mind 3.0.

Lessons to be Learned

I think there are a couple of lessons to be learned through this example:

  1. We all carry beliefs that we believe are “right.” And, while these beliefs have served us, primarily to protect ourselves, they may also be what is holding us back from being our best selves.
  2. Often, we look for data points to confirm our beliefs, and we count these as “evidences” that we are right and that an alternative perspective is wrong. But, we commonly fail to take seriously all of the other data points that confirm the alternative perspective.

If you would like a great resource to dive into to help you question your beliefs and assumptions, let me recommend Think Again by Adam Grant.

You can also pre-order my next book, The Elevated Leader: Level Up Your Leadership Through Vertical Development, set to be released October 11th.