9 Ways to Develop the Mindset of a Really Great Leader

3 min. read

What makes this really great leader mindset – a.k.a. Ladderburner way – different from the rest of the pack?

Part of it is what you see / look for.

Part of it is how you think.

So, where do you fit into the mix?

Average Leaders

Average leaders are average because they tend to focus more on the work and less on the people. They get things done. Most likely they were good, smart doers who were promoted to managers because they were good and smart. 

Where do average leaders tend to look?

Down. As in right in front of them.

Down at the day-to-day tasks––the stuff that has to get done. The never-ending demands of the here and now. Take one thing off the list, add two more. 

Average leaders are good people. It’s that they focus mostly on what’s in front of them and not able to see the bigger picture.

Kind of like looking for dog poop in your backyard. It’s hard to pick your head up without stepping in –– you get the picture.

Lousy Leaders

Lousy Leader is an oxymoron, or maybe just plain moron.

This person is all ego. Me,me,me. They live in darkness and self-absorption.

They look straight up to the powers that be.

Speaking of straight up, some call them suck-ups, brownnosers, ass kissers––all of which paint a hard-to-get-out-of-your mind visual. (Sorry about that.)

Their two most striking qualities are their incompetence and lack of empathy. Their favorite initials are CYA––perhaps embroidered on their shirt cuffs. How they got into leadership positions makes for spectacular coffee station chit chat like, “Can you believe what that a**hole just did,” and only gets wilder as the day wears on. Not a lot of work going when a Lousy Leader is in charge; people just laying low, doing the minimum, and sneaking out to grab a coffee for commiseration.

Really Great Leaders

Really Great Leaders are strategic thinkers.

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They look up and out – outside their organizations and beyond today’s realities.

They are not locked in on the “here and now.” They see a bigger picture.

They are students of situation and context, discernment and meaning. Having studied the past, they look at present trends and patterns (a.k.a. “dots”) to predict what could happen in the future (a.k.a. “connect the dots”).

They are flexible thinkers –– knowing that non-linear thinking leads to innovation, even with missteps.

Really Great Leaders are translators.

They often have the ability to translate what that future looks like into a path for how to get from here to there.

They look up and out –– then look down into their organizations and troops to understand what it’s going to take to move forward. This makes them unique because they don’t just paint a picture, they create the mechanics for implementation, then motivate the troops to that end.

Really Great Leaders are Prophets.

Really Great Leaders are not always understood or accepted for their big picture thinking and translation capability. They are prophets who predict a blizzard next week when it’s 50 degrees and sunny today. Or global warming. Or pandemics.

Some people can’t see it. They don’t have the brain cells to understand. 

Some won’t see it. They choose not to believe even though they may understand, or not.

9 Ways to Develop the Mindset of a Really Great Leader

  1. Pick your head up and look beyond the present time frame and outside your organization up.
  2. Look at trends and patterns today that could impact your organization in the future.
  3. Talk to your team, colleagues, organizational leaders about what you see and how to get there
  4. Speak at the level of understanding of your audience.
  5. Engage them. Listen.
  6. Convince with facts and emotional appeals.
  7. Connect personally.
  8. See this as THE job, not a one-off duty
  9. Don’t be deterred.

• • •

Remember –

Average Leaders are vanilla. You’re better than that. 

Lousy Leaders are idiots. You’re way better than that.

Really Great Leaders are prophets.

Be a prophet.

Even when some can’t understand what you’re talking about.

And, some won’t believe you. 

Remember that many people can and will.  

Stay the course.

That’s what really great leaders do.