Becoming an inspirational leader and manager – because the two should not be treated as separate – requires more than a focus on attainment and achievement.
It demands that leaders work to instill a range of integrated mindsets in themselves, ensuring that their management and leadership style is balanced, holistic and progressive.
The five mindsets of an inspirational leader are:
Today, managers are expected to be both competitive and collaborative, steadfast yet driven by change, both numbers- and people-oriented, and to think globally and locally. That’s a tall order.
So to be a successful leader and manage these contradictory expectations, it is essential that managers work to embrace these five mindsets and acknowledge that how they think is as important as what they accomplish.
An essential component of good management is self-reflection.
Whether you stop and step back to reflect on an experience, or perhaps your reaction to that experience, reflective practice is fundamental to ensuring that you as a leader are constantly learning, developing and improving.
How to approach self-reflection
Self-reflection requires you to be more open and aware of the experiences around you.
By doing this, you can assess what could have been done differently to improve the experience or outcome, and will gradually become more aware of how you make decisions and handle certain situations.
Here are three basic steps to help you practice self-reflection:
- Schedule time for self-reflection in your working day. This could be just 10 minutes per day but put it in your calendar and commit to it.
- Focus on the solution. When you critique something you’ve done, view this as a learning exercise and plan how you could improve in future.
- Experiment with different ways of reflecting. Try reflecting alone or with others, keep records or a daily journal, and question yourself.
Remember, managers who fail to look inward end up failing to see the outside world in a constructive way.
The optimal functioning of any organisation relies on analysis, whether that is industry analysis, staff assessments, organisational structure or operational analysis.
And while being analytical is an incredible trait, many leaders tend to analyse too much. This can leave them vulnerable to focusing too heavily on the component parts (numbers and details) and neglecting other external factors that should influence decision making.
To become a truly inspirational leader, an analytical, ‘left brain’ manager must aim to strike a balance between linear thinking and a holistic mindset.
How to reframe an analytical mindset
To make good decisions, inspire your team and lead them in the right direction, decisions must be both data driven and qualitative, with consideration of organisational and personal values.
A leader with a balanced, analytical mindset will:
- Be inclusive of others, not relying solely on their own thinking
- Develop intuition by considering data that is not rational, therefore engaging right-brain skills
- Relax structure and look at the bigger picture
Managers need to be mindful of their own biases and seek to blend reflection with analysis to ensure that the bigger picture is always front of mind.
The dictionary may define a worldly person as ‘practical and having a lot of experience of life’ but what does this mean for a leader?
Establishing a worldly mindset
A worldly mindset means that a leader considers other people’s circumstances, habits and cultures, and makes a conscious effort to step outside of office walls – both literally and figuratively – to appreciate how other people in other places operate.
Expecting all other people and countries to possess a globalised view in business is naive, and inspirational leaders should embrace the differences in markets, values and management practices.
Not only does this ensure a responsible interface between different business operations (such as suppliers), but it helps you as a leader understand how different consumers in different markets behave, so that you can adapt accordingly.
Many managers operate separately from their teams, making decisions and allocating resources in a way that is somewhat removed from those operating at team level.
Performance targets are often controlled by the manager, who does what he/she can to hit those goals using the resources available.
This is not collaborative management; yet it goes without saying that collaborative managers are the most effective leaders.
Becoming a collaborative leader
To become a collaborative leader, you must work with and throughout your team rather than adopting a top down approach.
Collaborative leaders inspire and engage team members more because they’re inside and part of the team. By positioning themselves as a team player rather than an enforcer, managers are far more likely to earn the trust and respect of their peers.
Interestingly, just 30% of employees state that their managers involve them in goal-setting, however these employees are 3.6 times more likely to be engaged as a result.
We all know that a happy, engaged and motivated team is a more productive one, so ensuring that you as a leader embrace a collaborative mindset is fundamental to your bottom line.
An action-based mindset is essential for any leader at the helm of any team, in any corporation.
However, action must be blended with reflection to ensure that the business is being steered in the right direction and that the rest of the team is still on board.
Nurturing a healthy, action-based mindset
An action-based mindset must be compatible with a collaborative one, otherwise your mind would be at odds with itself.
This means remaining curious, alert and experimental with your actions and encouraging your team to contribute ideas as you map out a course of action.
Of course, all actions you take must be analysed to ensure that they remain focused and targeted, and contribute to a greater goal.
Being able to set the direction, check everyone is still on-course, and empower the team to follow that course to achieve organisational goals is a skill that the most inspirational and successful leaders possess.