What separates successful from unsuccessful leaders?

Doing the right things.

But what are the right things?

They are the things that are fully aligned to your values, your vision and your goals. If they are not in line … then don’t do them. Don’t be busy doing things, do the right things. It is your choice.

So how do you do the right things?

It’s all about your mindset. It’s about the way you look at each decision or action – each conversation, event, meeting, task or even your leisure time.

The Five Mindsets outlines five key ways to see and approach any decision or action. No decision or action is guaranteed to be successful, but the right mindset for a specific task greatly increases your chance of success. Your mindset dictates your behaviours. Your behaviours directly impact the outcome. And the outcome dictates your success.

You can view any decision or action in a transformative, creative, proactive, productive and, when necessary, reactive way.

These are The Five Mindsets.

The Five Mindsets model
The Five Mindsets model

You choose your mode or approach towards a particular decision or task. You are not just choosing what you do, but why you do it and therefore how you will do it.

The Five Mindsets will enable you to execute your strategy successfully. They can be deployed individually, by a team or by a whole organisation.

In transformative mode, you will unlock the potential for an event to have a high impact. It could lead to radical change.

When you are being creative you are generating something new or stimulating development.

When you are being proactive you are taking the initiative. You anticipate the future and take action.

Being productive is about tackling important day-to-day responsibilities and getting things done.

You can, however, be driven by events and become reactive – responding to an external stimulus. Being reactive may add little value and may even be detrimental. So the reactive icon is a question mark, asking whether you should stop this activity.

But the reactive mode is not all bad. In life and leadership, we need to be agile and able to respond to frequent changes in circumstances, turning immediate problems into solutions.

You choose your mindset for every action or decision.

For example, if I buy flowers for my wife, I might choose to be:

·      Reactive (she was rightly upset when I forgot to buy an anniversary card, so I’m hoping this will help)

·      Productive (to make the house look more welcoming for visitors)

·      Proactive (to remind her that it’s our anniversary – she always forgets!)

·      Creative (I’ve taken a flower arranging course)

·      Transformative (who knows what impact this will have?)

It is the same activity – buying flowers – but with very different mindsets and therefore potentially different outcomes. You have the power to influence whether something will be transformative, creative, proactive, productive or reactive.

If your mindset isn’t leading to success, choose another one!

All of The Five Mindsets are valid and useful. Different situations call for different mindsets. It’s like having five hats for different occasions. Which hat do you want to wear for which situation?

You choose.

Here are some examples in work and life. Of course, you may want to reassign the tasks to a different mode.

The Five Mindsets
The Five Mindsets

So how do you choose which mindset to adopt?

By spotting the potential value of an activity to achieve your aims. The best leaders look for the potential in something, and then take action to realise it.

A decision, conversation or task does not necessarily have a prescribed value in itself. It is your mindset or behaviour, not the task itself, which creates the value.

Look again at the chart and imagine what your mindset would be if you reallocated each of the ‘creative’ activities to the ‘reactive’ mode. What would the consequences be?

Now try the reverse. Imagine tackling the tasks in the ‘reactive’ column in a ‘creative’ way. What might the outcomes be?

The most successful leaders consciously choose the right mindset to make the most of each situation. If you are not choosing, you are simply reacting.

Choose your mindset.

THE FIVE MINDSETS is one of the 50 models to be found in LEAD: 50 models for success in work & life co-authored by John D H Greenway, Andy Blacknell and Andy Coombe. It is published by Capstone, part of Wiley Publishing.

Illustrations are by Visual Thinkery.

LEAD - 50 models for success