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The Inner Mindset of an Effective Leader

What distinguishes great leaders from their mediocre colleagues?  Leaders with a growth mindset use every challenge as a learning goal. Effective leaders set an inner mindset to learn from every challenge.

Some leaders focus almost exclusively on performance. Others emphasize growth and learning, as well as results. In a horse race, put your money on the leader who defines both learning and performance goals.

Many managers and leaders are performance-driven. They have lists of SMART goals that highlight what they intend to achieve each quarter, often involving numbers:

  • Exceed sales results by 5%
  • Increase bonuses by 10% by year’s end
  • Improve team productivity by 25%
  • Increase shareholder value
  • Decrease customer complaints

In my coaching work with clients, such performance-driven leaders focus exclusively on the outer game. They judge their worth by whether they’ve achieved these goals, and they hold their people to the same standards.

Unfortunately, these leaders are likely missing key factors that restrict their potential: a growth mindset and the ability to set and pursue learning goals for themselves and others.

“The desire to learn is as fundamental to our being as the desire to survive and to enjoy.” ~ Tim Gallwey, The Inner Game of Work

Learning goals include:

  • Diminish feelings of stress
  • Enhance listening skills
  • Develop empathy skills
  • Improve coaching skills
  • Facilitate more cohesive team-building

Performance goals are, of course, necessary for achieving bottom-line results. But keep in mind that the bar is constantly being raised. How do you keep increasing your capacity to perform? If you cannot improve your capabilities, you’re unable to keep up. Learning goals represent the inner game you must work on to prevent stagnation.

What do you think? Have you set learning goals for yourself, or worked with a coach on your inner game? I’d love to hear from you; you can reach me here and on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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