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Unleash The Power of a Leadership Mindset: How to Develop and Cultivate It

leadership mindset

It’s all well and good to talk about leadership and aspire to show it, whether it’s in our families, social situations or work environment. However, unfortunately, it’s not something we can just click our fingers and magically possess the know-how and right qualities. To really show leadership and represent everything it stands for, you need to develop a leadership mindset. How you think, your values, and what motivates you contribute to this kind of thinking. And once you get a hold of it, there’s no telling how far it can potentially take you.

In this article, we’ll delve into the real meaning of a leadership mindset, including the essential elements, what to avoid, and practical steps to help you get there.

What’s the Real Meaning of a Leadership Mindset?

Simply having an idea or plan and pushing it onto other team members and expecting them to follow just isn’t going to cut it. Leadership takes work, dedication, and patience. Everything you do has to be part of a much bigger picture than your own needs and wants for your business. Essentially, senior leaders inspire, motivate and support others to work together toward a common goal and be the best version of themselves in their work or personal lives. 

In high-performing teams, everyone has a role to play in making something happen. So, it’s about figuring out what that is and helping others do the same. Those in leadership roles must work on their leadership development. You need to display a clear vision, growth mindset, self-awareness, resilience and empathy.

Essential Elements of a Leader Mindset

  • Visionary thinking
  • Self-awareness
  • Resilience and adaptability
  • Effective communication
  • Collaboration and teamwork 

Let’s take a closer look at the vital tools every effective leader needs in their toolbox. 

Visionary Thinking

It’s pretty difficult to know where to start as a leader if you don’t know where you want to get to. The first step is to look ahead and picture what you want the future to look like. However, that doesn’t mean there’s just a starting point and an endpoint to achieving the desired outcome. There will be some very intentional steps along the way to guide people toward achieving that vision. Having this insight before you even begin is crucial to showcasing effective leadership and taking others along on the journey.


Nurturing team members’ growth is harder without first understanding what makes you tick, who you are, and what you stand for. That’s where self-awareness comes in. It’s the cornerstone of personal growth within a leadership framework. It requires you to recognize your values, drivers and emotions so you become one of the best leaders. Knowing where you stand as a leader is fundamental to encouraging other people to achieve their own sense of self-awareness.

Furthermore, self-awareness means you can hone your leadership skills with professional development. Your mindset shifts as you appreciate your shortcomings and take steps to enhance your skillsets, whether it’s problem-solving or decision-making abilities.  

Resilience and Adaptability

It’s no secret that we can plan for situations as much as we like. However, the inevitability of things changing is integral to leadership skillsets – even if that takes you out of your comfort zone. When you shift your mindset towards expecting things to go off track, you are prepared for when it does happen. Pivoting in a way that allows you to adapt becomes much easier.

Resilience and adaptability became part and parcel of what many businesses had to do during the pandemic. While we hope not to have to go through something like this again, having those skills means you can turn difficult situations into workable ones and move forward in a new direction toward the same goal. Displaying empathy and emotional intelligence when things get tough, or roadblocks appear is a big part of your leadership mindset. It’s about tackling things head-on.

Effective Communication

Whether in a personal or professional context, effective communication is crucial. It helps you build relationships, resolve conflicts, share information and achieve goals. And it also enhances decision-making. 

Keeping your people in the loop during every step of a process, allowing them space to add their own ideas and perspectives, and speaking in a relatable way they can get on board with is critical. Communication is an essential part of a leadership mindset. Fostering relationships where people feel heard is the best way to ensure you reach your end goal and see the results you’ve envisaged.

Collaboration and Teamwork

Real success comes out of working with others to achieve a common goal. Knowing what you want to achieve is one thing, but if your team isn’t involved, getting there is more challenging. 

Every employee in an organization has something unique and powerful to offer, so putting them in a position to do exactly that is where the magic really happens. Whether working in smaller groups or larger cross-team collaborations, capitalizing on the fact that everyone has something to bring to the table will ensure the outcome is even better than you could have imagined.

Balancing Thoughts and Emotions in Leadership 

One of the most challenging yet vital aspects of having a leadership mindset is balancing rational thinking with emotional intelligence. One cannot exist without the other. The breakthroughs happen when both work in harmony. Taking on a leadership mindset means you have to be practical. Not just in terms of the expectations you have of yourself but the ones you have of the people you are leading. 

At the same time, if you don’t have empathy and understanding, you won’t be able to see if those expectations are realistic and tangible. When you can take empathy and understanding into account and adapt your mindset to think more outside of the box, that’s when your leadership style will be most successful.

Avoiding These Common Leadership Mindset Mistakes

When you’re intensely focused on getting results, making a few mistakes along the way can be easy. Some of these can impact your business goals. Here are some of the potential mindset mistakes to recognize and avoid.

Rigid Thinking

In almost all situations, there isn’t one right way of doing things. If you find yourself getting bogged down in the details, you lose sight of the bigger picture and put unnecessary obstacles in the way. This kind of leadership mindset can stifle innovation, create a  blame culture and obstruct growth. Open-mindedness,  having a listening ear and encouraging discussion and collaboration take you further as a leader than if you just stuck to one way of thinking. Rigid thinking is the enemy of great leaders. You have to be agile and willing to adapt.


Believing that employees are incapable of doing things on their own leads to conflict and tension and pushes people away. To thrive, staff need to know that their judgment is trusted. They need to feel that they’re capable, valued and respected. 

Micromanagement only causes frustration and hampers team members’ abilities to really thrive. Having a strong leadership mindset and being a humble leader is about allowing people to manage themselves. However, offering mentoring is still a hugely important part of this process.

Neglecting Work-life Balance

Covid-19 lockdowns are still fresh in our memories. Now more than ever, we are focusing on the importance of a healthy work-life balance. As a leader, this applies to you and your team. If you’re not paying enough attention to your life outside work, and vice versa, one or the other will start slipping. Having a leadership mindset is acknowledging that there needs to be an equal share of energy between your career and your home life. Nobody should have to work just to survive.

Not Celebrating Success

Too often, we get caught up in the grind of our work lives. And we forget that there have been some big wins along the way. No matter how many tasks you have on your to-do list, making time to celebrate team successes is crucial. Not only does it make you and the team feel good, but patting yourself and others on the back for a job well done increases motivation and encourages more of the same.

A Step-by-Step Approach to Developing a Leadership Mindset Within Your Team

Now that you know more about a leadership mindset and why it’s such a powerful growth mechanism, let’s explore how to develop one yourself and start putting it into action.

Lead by Example

This one has stood the test of time – and for good reason. You cannot expect the team to follow a certain set of rules and practices if you are not demonstrating them. If you want to inspire others to work hard, you need to show them that you are doing the same. Take work ethic, for example. If you are the first one in the office every day, you’re showing people your expectations of them, and they will be motivated to do likewise.

Provide Learning Opportunities

We spend so much of our lives at work. The last thing we want is to feel like we’re just another person taking part in the rat race. As a leader, keeping employees engaged and stimulated involves providing learning opportunities. You want your people to grow professionally, progress their careers and learn new skills. Having performance reviews and checking in with staff to see where they are at is a great way to start employee development conversations. 

And remember, don’t neglect your own professional development. Model the right behaviors by engaging in leadership training and sharpening your skills. 

Offer Regular Feedback

Leaders cannot expect others to learn and grow if they don’t share feedback on what they are doing well and what could be improved. 

Feedback supports staff to stay on track and allows them to have their voices heard.  Feedback is a two-way street, so never close yourself off from the opportunity to receive insights from others on your leadership performance. We all have something to gain from these open and honest discussions. And the insights gained will help enhance your leadership skills. 

Conclusion: Cultivating a Leadership Mindset

There’s no avoiding it. The right mindset is everything when it comes to the difference between a good leader and a great one. The title leader is meaningless if you’re not able to adopt the thinking and vision of a leader who goes above and beyond to inspire, motivate and encourage others to reach their full potential. Getting to this place mentally takes time. However,  we guarantee that once you’ve taken on a leadership mindset and put it into action in the workplace, the outcome is priceless.


Aish Hinton

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