A leadership mindset is crucial for professional and business success. Far too often, I see leaders promoted into roles because of individual contributions, connections, or just the ability to interview well. Over the last few weeks, I’ve touched on important leadership traits like courage and curiosity. And I don’t want to minimize important characteristics like business acumen, empathy, and transparency.
In this post, I want to talk about the leadership traits you need to keep going when it gets tough. And it will get tough. Every leader will face their moment of truth, that time when everything seems to turn against you. In many cases, at that moment, you will feel isolated and alone. So, what will carry you through?
There are three keys to surviving the tough times: Resolve, Resilience, and Persistence. And when you can combine all three, you can effectively lead your team into a successful future.
The leadership mindset begins with resolve. Leaders must be decisive and have firm determination for the path forward. People don’t follow wishy-washy leaders who don’t lead with intent. Your team wants to know your vision and the plan you will put into achieving it.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should move forward blindly without a well thought out plan. Bringing your team into the discussion is a crucial first step in building the way ahead. As a leader, you do not have all the answers. It’s foolish to think you do. Leverage your team to help you refine your vision and your plan.
Once you have weighed all the input and determined the path forward, you must commit to it. Early second-guessing will undermine your authority and create a crisis of confidence in your team. Leaders need to show they are fully invested in the solution and driving their way forward. And this leads to our second critical characteristic.
Once your decision is made, you need to keep moving forward. You have developed the plan, and now it is time to execute the plan. Trust your team to perform.
However, as Mike Tyson famously said: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” You will run into obstacles. You can’t anticipate every roadblock you will face as you execute the plan. And you also can’t give up at the first sign of resistance.
When the plan is hitting roadblocks, and the plan looks like it may go off the rails, your team will turn to you. How are you reacting? What actions are you taking? When they see you persisting and moving forward through the obstacles, they will take that energy from you and do the same.
Remember, the leader sets the tone. Your team looks to you to know more about how they should react. So, persevere in the face of adversity!
Finally, leaders, we get to resilience. It’s the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and demonstrates mental toughness.
Sometimes, despite our resolve and persistence, it will be apparent that we made the wrong decisions to go down a particular path. We cannot be so bullheaded as leaders that we don’t acknowledge when that happens. And, it’s a delicate balance between the grit and strength to keep going and knowing when to throw in the towel.
Great leaders stay on top of the big projects. They watch closely and get input from the team on progress. And when projects begin to get behind schedule or over budget, they need to make the call to stop. Perhaps it is only in need of repositioning the project or reassessing the path. Or, it’s just time to call it a mistake. Don’t buy into the sunk cost fallacy that we must continue to move forward because we have invested so much already.
Enter resilience. How well do you recover from the mistake? Do you spend your time second-guessing yourself, filled with recrimination and regret? Or are you learning from mistakes and working with your team to grow from the experience?
Part of resilience is moving it from inside you and outside to your team. Treat failure as an opportunity to do better. Then move forward, wiser for the experience.
Let’s talk if you want to improve your leadership mindset and grow your resolve, resilience, and persistence. You can schedule a short introductory call with me to discuss your goals and how you can achieve them more quickly!