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Five Critical Values Incumbent in a Great Leader Mindset

From my perspective, there are five critical values incumbent in a Great Leader Mindset: optimism, resiliency, confidence, humility, and gratitude. I call these the Big Five Great Leadership Mindset Traits. Let’s look at each of these.

Optimism — Optimism is known to  boost energy levels, create higher levels of concentration and focus, improve the chances of reaching a set goal, and prevent health problems from occurring. An optimistic leader will find, notice, and leverage the positives in any circumstance and in all challenges faced. This optimism must be based on reality (no rose-colored glasses here) and the honest belief that the leader and the team have the resources, talents, capabilities, and fortitude available to achieve success. Leadership Mindset | Leadership Traits

Resiliency — While some people just seem more naturally resilient, resiliency is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and improved over time. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back from adversity, misfortune, or change. It is also a spirit of hardiness and the strength (both physical and mental) to remain persistent in pursuit of a goal or in overcoming a challenge. A core component of resiliency is adaptability, which is built through becoming comfortable with ambiguity, taking control of our internal monologues, and paying particular attention to maintaining high levels of physical, mental, and emotional energy.

Confidence — Confidence is another component of a strong leadership mindset, provided it is held in check and not seen as self-promoting, ego-centric boosterism. Confidence in your skills and abilities will reduce stress and pressure, leading to better analysis, evaluation, and decision making. It comes from knowing yourself, and fully understanding (and appreciating) your strengths and weaknesses.

It also comes from observing and analyzing how you make decisions, both good and bad. Not every decision will work out as you expect. That’s okay. The key is to reflect back on how and why you made a particular decision to learn about your decision-making capabilities and tendencies. This helps you grow as a leader and gives you greater confidence when you have to make judgment calls in areas where you may not be a technical subject matter expert.

Humility — Before writing his best-selling book Good to Great, Jim Collins and his team examined over 1400 companies to determine what distinguishes great companies from good ones. One of his findings was that exceptional leaders exhibit what might seem to be a conflicting blend of intense professional determination to achieve goals and objectives mixed with high levels of personal humility. These exceptional leaders displayed a constant ability to drive results by continuously recognizing the contributions of others rather than claiming all the credit or keeping the focus on themselves.

When a leader makes his or her team, or one of their employees, look good, it also makes the leader look good as well. Having a humble leadership mindset and giving credit to others enhances how a leader is perceived and evaluated by others, particularly in such key attributes as overall leadership effectiveness and capability, trustworthiness, and acting in sync with the organization’s core values and principles.

Gratitude — Another key attribute that great leaders keep at the forefront of their leadership mindsets is gratitude. “The combination of leadership and gratitude is extremely powerful,” notes author Christine Comaford in an article in Forbes magazine. “The power of gratitude gives leaders the edge they need to quickly pivot during stressful situations.

Much like having your own personal leadership philosophy (see the earlier blog post Why You Need a Personal Leadership Philosophy), to become a great leader also requires the development of your own leadership mindset based on your own set of personal values and beliefs. I hope your own set of personal values and beliefs include these Big Five Leadership Mindset Traits.


This article is excerpted from my book Great Leadership Words of Wisdom, which is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats and has over 1000 quotes on leadership from global business leaders, statesmen, athletes, coaches, sages, and philosophers.

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