Excellent Leadership is an Inside Job
Leadership excellence is an inside out job that starts with the way you think. Here is how to get started.
Excellent leadership is defined by excellent thinking. Words and acts of excellence are preceded by thoughts of excellence.
Your mind is a magnet. What you focus on is what you get. Your thoughts and beliefs have that much power. Think about it! You receive what you believe about leadership. This works just as powerfully with negative thoughts as it does with positive thoughts.
You might be asking, “How can I be positive all the time when negative situations are a reality–they just show up in everyday life?”
Yes, bad things do happen and they sometimes “just show up.” Any leader would be hard pressed to remember a week when no curve balls were thrown. However, it is your interpretation that makes a situation negative. A surprise event or a challenging moment doesn’t drag you down. The way you think about what happens determines the ultimate outcome.
Like it or not, your thoughts and interpretations of people and events directly influence your beliefs, and ultimately, your leadership actions. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or cannot, you’re right.” In other words, what you think is what you get.
Hannah Teeter understands this. While most girls were playing with dolls or getting ready for their high school proms, Hannah, Olympic gold medalist in the half-pipe snowboarding event, was trying to keep up with her four older brothers. She learned whatever they were willing to teach her about snowboarding, and they urged her to “push higher” and “go big.”
After standing atop the highest step on the medalists’ podium in Torino, Italy, Hanna was interviewed by a television commentator. He asked Hannah, “To what do you attribute your gold medal performance at the young age of 19?”
“My ‘secret sauce,'” she said, “is my brothers, having great parents and being able to stay positive about anything and everything that’s come my way. Keeping a positive outlook is definitely key to success on a snowboard or in any competition.”
Hannah is right.
An attitude of excellence is the secret sauce for today’s successful leader. Excellent leaders mentally reframe situations to help their teams view challenges in a positive light… they take a new picture. Facts are facts, but the view you take is your choice.
Your experiences are much less important than how you choose to think about them. Your interpretations of experiences either limit or enable your future success. Here’s an example: a mission-critical project you are leading has “promotion” written all over it, but it bombs–it’s over budget, past its deadline… the works. How you choose to interpret those facts is how you shape your future. Am I a failure, a poor leader who is maxed out and on the way out? Or am I a great leader in the making who is learning some tough lessons that will help ensure success on the next project when my true colors will really show?
At any moment during daily leadership, you can fall victim to your own thinking. Self-doubt and fear are the enemies of leadership excellence. Your commitments define you, and your team depends on you. The choice is yours. Think excellence… always.
The opinions expressed here by the columnist are his own.