To date, we’ve covered 5 pillars on our road to effortless leadership. These have been;
- Personal Integrity
- Healthy Lifestyle
- State of Awareness
- The Pursuit of Knowledge
- Leading from the Heart
These pillars combine internal and external qualities that a leader must have to have influence and be effective. In this month’s blog, I’d like to continue on this journey and highlight another fundamental trait that you have to harness and practice in order to become an effortless leader.
The trait I’m talking about is having a creative strategic mindset. And you’re right if you’re thinking “does he mean having strategy”. However, that’s just one layer of what I’m actually referring to. Because having a strategy by itself is often not enough. So to explain that, let’s look at the specific words in the title, and break this down. To do that, let’s agree on the definition of those words.
The first word is Creative. I see creativity as the ability to come up with unique, unusual and original ideas that trigger imagination and inspiration. The next word is Strategic, and I define strategy as a plan that focuses on macro outcomes and long term results. Therefore being strategic means you are able to recognise and focus on those macro and long term goals and create a plan to get there. And finally, let’s agree on what mindset means. Without delving into the deeper understanding of the levels of the mind, l define mindset as the beliefs, opinions and attitudes that one holds. And quite often that mindset determines the person’s character.
Now if I had simply titled this Pillar, strategy, then we would only be looking at having a plan to achieve long term outcomes. From my experience, many business executives and leaders have a strategy. However, how many of them have a creative strategy? And again how many of them have the right attitude and beliefs to achieve the outcomes of that strategy.
That’s why when I talk about effortless leadership, I talk about having a creative strategic mindset. With this trait, you have original and imaginative ideas that are related to the long term and macro objectives of your business or organisation, and you have the attitude and belief to focus on that plan effectively. Effectively, you are not just firing off logical plans. You are firing off plans that are inspirational and emotive. They come from the heart and they bring out your true identity. They are linked to your integrity and are a result of your awareness of what is happening in your environment. They are unique because you have the knowledge of your work, your business, your competitors and your environment.
As you can tell, we are now combining all the pillars together. That’s right, effortless leadership isn’t about one skill. It’s about how the various pillars work together to create a much higher level of influence and effectiveness. To have a truly creative strategic mindset, you need to have mastered the previous five pillars. And once you do, you will be able to communicate your strategy and get buy-in easily. More than you ever imagined possible.
Let’s quickly get technical on this pillar. We are talking about having original ideas, making a plan, and then having the mindset to make that plan happen. So what are the fundamental tasks that you need to do as a leader?
> Know what makes you Unique: Take time to build technical knowledge and intuitive awareness of what makes you, your business, your product and your team unique. Focus on building strategy to make your uniqueness shine to attract positive outcomes.
> Take Risks: Being creative means thinking outside the box. So don’t limit yourself to the “vanilla” plan. Consider other more outlandish and riskier plans then do your analysis on them. Taking risks has been the cornerstone of every successful person or business. However, learn to understand what “good” risk is.
> Strategic Planning: This blog isn’t a “how-to” on strategy. But this is a skill you must know. Either you are a natural strategic planner or you need to learn it, either way, it’s imperative that you have tools and techniques on how you formulate and communicate those plans. For a simple read on developing a plan, read the article “How to design a Strategic Planning System” written on the Harvard Business Review.
> Vision and Imagination: Take time to seek internal wisdom on the greater vision and mission of your business. Use your imagination to seek different opportunities and solutions. Tap into your gut to get a sense of what feels right and which strategy to take.
> Values and Beliefs: Build a habit of tapping into your values and beliefs to derive your goals and ambitions. Then build a plan around those goals. If your plans are about achieving your values, they are more likely to succeed compared to plan just about materialistic objectives.
> Resilience: To have a mindset of success requires resilience. To have a strategic mindset means being strong in ensuring those plans are implemented and applied. That gives you the strategic attitude which won’t waver when others throw doubt in your direction. (Look out for more on this next in the next pillar.)
> Meditate: The more time you spend on mindfulness rather than business, the more strategic you become. Many leaders think being busy means being a good leader. Most successful leaders know that being calm, reflective and focused are the keys to success. Meditation enhances those traits. And so does exercise and good diet which we explored in Pillar 2.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. This is just the tip of the iceberg but I hope that you can appreciate the meaning of having a Creative Strategic Mindset. As I said, I’ve seen many strategies fail. And that happens because they are mundane, unimaginative and uninspiring. They’re just words and numbers on paper. For successful strategies, be sure to give them heart to come to life, and back them up with strong beliefs and mindset.
If you’d like to learn more about developing creative strategic mindset or develop effortless leadership, book your complimentary discovery session with me.