5 Mindset Shifts to Improve Your Leadership Skills
Leadership skills begin within.
That might sound cheesy if you’re not the look-within type. But it’s no less true.
The stories we tell ourselves about our reality influence the choices we make and the way we communicate with our team. If you perceive something as a disaster, you’ll treat it like a disaster. And your team will respond with fear, anxiety, or distraction.
On the other hand, if you perceive the same situation as an opportunity for growth, your team will be right there with you. They’ll follow your lead and proactively seek ways to adapt and innovate.
As you prepare to grow your business in a new year, I’d like to offer some phrases you can use to replace old thought patterns. Just by changing the words you say to yourself, you work towards transforming your mindset.
You shift your perspective, find an easier path to solutions, and become a more effective leader.
To ramp up your leadership skills, try these five substitutions:
1. Instead of “I need to have all the answers”...
...try “Who is best equipped to find the solution?”
We’ve all fallen into the trap of confusing “leader” with “all-knowing commander.” But it’s not your job to know everything. It’s no one’s job to know everything. That’s not possible.
What really makes you an effective leader is your ability to:
- Model an attitude of curiosity and learning
- Recognize and nurture unique skill sets
A weak leader masks ignorance behind a facade of overconfidence. They’d rather solve problems on their own—with poor results—than admit they need to lean on someone else’s strength or insight.
A strong and confident leader is eager to let each team member shine in their area of expertise.
2. Instead of “We have a lot of competition”...
...try “Opportunities are always around us.”
Business owners tend to have a scarcity mentality, especially those of us who grew up in homes where money was a constant struggle. We see money as an extremely limited resource, and as a result, we see business as a battleground.
Take it from me: you get so much further with an abundance mindset.
This whole “fight to survive” mentality puts you and your team in a constant state of stress and, well, survival. To actually thrive, you have to help your team learn to greet each day with the question, “What incredible possibilities lie before me?”
Where is there a new opportunity to grow? A new connection to make? A new market to explore? Where is there money just sitting and waiting for us? And how do we claim it?
3. Instead of “My team isn’t measuring up to expectations”...
...try “How can I help them meet their goals?”
Another common misconception about leadership skills is that it’s our job to keep people in line.
While we do need to track and respond to employee performance, you’ll get much further with a different mentality. Instead of focusing on the fact that your team has “failed” you, get curious about what went wrong.
Learn to ask employees about their process, their goals, and any challenges they may be having. Ask how you can help them grow their skills and meet your shared objectives.
When you focus on helping your team succeed, you often discover roadblocks that simply aren’t visible from the corner office. Clunky systems, poor morale, miscommunications, even personal challenges… these revelations are all opportunities to improve the internal world of your business.
It’s also more likely to yield the results you want than simply saying you need to start seeing better numbers.
4. Instead of “This is a huge obstacle”...
...try “Where is the opportunity here?”
You notice me using that word a lot, don’t you? “Opportunity.”
That’s because the ability to recognize opportunity is a key leadership skill. And it is especially essential when your business runs into major obstacles.
When you focus on the obstacle, obstacles are all you can see. But imagine what happens if instead, you practice asking questions like:
- How can this become a learning opportunity for my team?
- What skills will I be forced to develop because of this?
- Could this obstacle be the thing that nudges us in a new and more lucrative direction?
The more you challenge yourself to look for the possibilities, the easier it becomes to see them. Before you know it, you’re turning a “surviving” situation into a “thriving” situation.
And if you can spread that attitude to your entire team, your business will be unstoppable.
5. Instead of “That will never be in my skill set”...
...try “How can I tap into this opportunity that lies outside my strengths.”
I cannot tell you how often entrepreneurs walk away from great opportunities because “it’s just not their thing.”
They pass up new technology because they’re “not a tech person.” They try to build a business on referrals and existing relationships because they’re “not good at sales.”
Or, in my case, they avoid connecting with their team because they’re “not good in front of people” and are “more of an Ideas Guy.”
Let me tell you this: everything changes when you stop putting limits on yourself.
Sometimes it’s a matter of pushing yourself to do the thing you thought you couldn’t, which is what I did when it became clear that a strong connection with my team was mandatory if I wanted to build a solid business.
In other situations, it’s about leaning on someone who has the strengths you lack. Is your receptionist also a whiz at social media? Is it time to bring on a sales person?
You are a leader, after all, and leadership means inspiring a team to explore, create, grow, and thrive. That’s exactly what you do when you call on your employees to shine in their area of expertise.
This is also how you open the door to new possibilities, and that, of course, is the benefit of all these mindset shifts. When you learn to think differently, you eliminate limitations. You create a broader landscape of opportunity.
And you inspire the people around you to be their very best.
Further Resources on This Topic
Free Video Course: Accelerating Business Growth