Updated: Apr 18, 2020

Living Leadership Series: Building a mindset of empowerment

In this article from our living leadership series, we explore how a good leader shifts their mindset towards becoming a great leader by thinking in 3D. In essence, using their perspective to create a healthy mindset towards leading with abundance.

'We follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to.'

As we adjust to a COV19 living and working environment, one of the great opportunities we have all been presented with is a ‘Golden bag of time’. When have we all said to ourselves, “I would if I had more time”, or “there are never enough hours in the day” to put the energy into learning to be a better leader?

In today’s modern world, we will often over prioritize being busier on the urgent things, rather than busy on the important things. COV19 has forced the world to take a pause and presented us with the opportunity to reflect on what’s important to where we are now and where we are going. As a great leader, what is essential is building skills that make people want to follow you. Without followers, there is no opportunity to lead. As the great leader Dwight Eisenhower said,

“I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent. It's a useful time management tool for getting things done.”

Think of your own golden bag of time, like a sack with a hole in the bottom. All the while you hold it, important time is pouring out. What is best to spend this time on, before it is gone? We suggest the answer is You. Great leaders know their value is in not just knowing what to do, but doing it consistently and with practice, so it becomes part of their everyday behavior.

We know people learn fastest when they feel connected with the situation or event before them i.e. they are present and able to learn through their own reflection of the situation. So how do you optimize your self-development during this crisis? The answer lies in slowing down enough to get to success faster.

We always have a choice on how fast we learn and where we are wanting to go.

In our last article from this series, we spoke to the TED triangle and how it could be used as a way of influencing our emotional health to deal with the COV19 crisis. Today we want to further explore the topic of emotional empowerment and show why everything is connected to everything, and how it helps us thrive as leaders in these times of uncertainty. To find structure in chaos, we must look to the people next to us. They form the structures we need to build order from the chaos.

As humans, we have evolved two fundamental mindsets available to help us face and overcome our challenges. One is driven from our logical left side of the brain, while the other, the creative right side. By exploring each mindset, we best understand how to fine-tune ourselves to go from being a good leader to a great leader and bringing the best culture we can into our environment.

Our logical left side of the brain - the mind.

When we are using the logical left side of the brain, we emanate progress based on triggering our primal survival mode. Our actions are based on analytical and critical thinking, to use and apply facts from our evolved intellect. We make judgments based on our current understanding and perspective at a given time. Decisive action is a good leadership quality. In essence, our logical right side of the brain, the mind, works out what we don’t want to happen and what problem(s) must be dissolved to move forward and achieve our intended goal.

For our mind, its mental intelligence is based on experience and understanding the logic that is key to our ongoing survival. In this mindset, the tendency that becomes a habit is to judge the people we connect with and decide if their view or perspective is right or wrong, in terms of alignment with our own thoughts on the matter to hand. Logic works best when we break things down into black and white options, I refer to this style of behavior as two dimensional (2D) thinking, because it is focused on making linear progress and surviving a situation to move on to the next.

There are clearly times when we need the decisive nature of our logic, combined with our intellect of past experiences and learnings. However, there is a downside to habitually simply using the logic of our mind as the only source of reference in our decision making capability as a leader.

When we work our thoughts using a 2D mindset to filter out answers, we focus on the problem we see, what we don’t want to happen and what we can do to resolve it. We see a problem to be fixed, not an opportunity to grow through curiosity-based learning. We operate in a problem-anxious state wondering and considering what might go wrong so we can take preemptive action. The left side of the brain being linear by nature is based on immediate to short term actions. We decide on what is the urgent task at hand and get on with it. The 2D mindset does not engage our emotional intellect and creativity unless it becomes frustrated with the results being achieved. We are and become biased towards urgent over important action.

The 2D mind works to dominate the survivability game in every situation, and habitually carries out the same patterns of behavior unless an external stimulus alters our thinking or course of action. It's why we find habits so hard to break. Behaviors over time become entrenched autonomous habits, due to the underlying 2D motivator of the survival logic in use, and its context to what is right or wrong.

In constantly using a logical approach to resolve problems, there is the risk we self-isolate our needs and live within ourselves and our thoughts. That is we become lonely inside and hide or suppress our feelings in a need to share and communicate within the company of others. Logic drives our behaviors to seek out connections to help us deal with our growing problems.

As our challenges become bigger based on the problems we envisage. More connections are needed to manage the situation. A problem-solving mindset can make good leaders but does not make great leaders. 2D thinking consumes a lot of energy. The net result of 2D problem-solving is that we adapt our behaviors to fit situations and the connections we need with others, to achieve results. Long term we risk losing our identity on who we are and why we are Us. This style of behavior only works for so long, very long in some cases, but it is limiting to our continual development and growth as a leader. It creates the proverbial glass ceiling holding back leadership success.

Our creative right side of the brain - the exponential mindset.

What if there was another way that does not consume our energy but builds our energy? What if we embrace the idea that we are all different and in being so, we can tap into an abundance of shared energy. The human brain is an intricate organ. At approximately 3 pounds, it contains about 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections. Your brain is command central of all we think, feel, and do. The feeling aspect of the brain is found in our creative right side, powered by the electrical impulses received from the heart. What if we share our energy as leaders with positivity and abundance?

When we are operating from the right side of the brain we start to think with an exponential mindset using creativity and curiosity to explore new opportunities and ideas. We no longer become trapped by the logic of 2D survivable thinking. On the right side of the brain, our behavior shifts to being creative and innovative. I refer to this style of behavior as three dimensional (3D) thinking. We embrace to explore possible solutions together, through curiosity and creativity. We operate from a premise of abundance and outcome-based thinking. An abundance of ideas or thoughts are shared with others through collaboration, to create even more ideas and thoughts and move everybody forward towards success. Blending 3D thinking skills with 2D logic skills is what creates great leaders. The difference between great leaders and a good leader is the abundance of energy they create in the people who are choosing to follow them.

When we are operating from the right side of the brain, the curiosity used embraces the feeling of creative empowerment within ourselves. We look to judge only the situation we are facing, not the people involved in it. Our shift in thinking moves from what is right or wrong, towards finding the truth through honesty. We think outside or even beyond the box of logic. Our headspace becomes filled with positivity, created through the energy generated from our hearts feeling good. We are inspired and seek to inspire others. We become passionate about the possible outcomes we might achieve using the creativity born through our shared imaginations as we embrace each other’s differences to find new solutions.

A 3D mindset creates empowerment and an understanding of the abundance and collaboration available in a given situation through working together. Judgment is focused on the situation, not a person or persons. Remember a 2D mindset consumes its energy from the drama surrounding a problem and thereby creates scarcity in the resources available to handle the situation at hand. This leads to survival driven behaviors causing isolation, with judgment, focused on a person’s role and if something is right or wrong in context to the observer. Leading in 3D is about knowing how to grown energy by bringing people together.

An interesting exercise we carry out in our high performing team coaching lab is to get the teams to build two, word clouds of keywords describing both the effects and behaviors of the left and right side of the brain thinking. The results are fascinating and show real reflective learning in practice, as they grasp the difference between what side of the brain best suits each situation presented.

In summarizing before we jump to the behavioral actions of a great leader, remember everything is connected to everything through the emotional energy we create as a leader. Great leaders are authentic first and driven to build strong lasting connections that are developed through an abundance of respect for the differences found in the people they are working alongside. These connections built from a position of authenticity-first creates the magic feeling of happiness and self-worth in the people who follow the leader. It's all about our choice and perspective as a leader when we choose to think in 2D or with 3D. Great leaders tap into their 3D thinking skills to create an abundance of energy in their people.

Actions to empower your 3D thinking and become a great leader

It is often said that a good leader coaches, but a great leader is coachable. Listed below are a set of key stepping stones to coach yourself in and practice, to help you in empowering yourself as a great leader.

  1. Who you are, builds trust so be 100% present with people, and then start with why.

  2. Your inner strength as a leader grows from your ability to be authentic.

  3. Be self-aware of your life coins, their value and traits define your personal brand.

  4. You exist as a leader to inspire others to achieve their greatness.

  5. Always inspire the people with you on the journey to act with purpose and integrity.

  6. Leadership is a full-time commitment, needing you to be consistent in your behaviors,

  7. The legacy of your leadership is the culture seen in the people you empowered..

  8. There is no leadership without at least 1 follower who believes in your vision.

  9. Leadership energy = (R.I.S.K - F.E.A.R) x T.R.U.S.T. raised by the power of people led.

  10. People follow because they believe, which is a reflection of how you made them feel.

When leading, have patience with yourself, to practice finding greatness in others. To paraphrase Simon Sinek;

“There are leaders and those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power and authority, and then there are those who lead that inspire us. We follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them but for ourselves, and it’s those Leaders that start with ‘Why’, who have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.”

Tip 1: Who you are as a leader and how you think creates the foundation of trust upon which all your relationships must rest.

Knowing yourself is pivotal if you want to be a great leader. Everybody leads at some time. We all have leadership skills. Leadership gives an ability to share a journey with someone and to use your knowledge to successfully form an effective and bonding relationship that is mutually beneficial. Your leadership style is driven by your social Intelligence (SI). Two key SI skills to nurture and develop as a leader are; Self-awareness and authenticity. Make small changes in your own daily self-journey to create 3D based thinking practices that are sustainable.

Tip 2: Being authentic-first is probably your greatest strength as a leader to create an abundance of energy in others. You will find it challenging to create bonds of trust with people unless you are prepared to share your vulnerabilities and show up as the real you. People choose who to follow based on their Trust in the authenticity of a person.

Being present with someone requires you to be willing to embrace our differences and show your own vulnerabilities. We are all human and worthwhile. When we accept to lead predominantly with a 3D mindset we find an abundance of creative resources at our disposal.

Tip 3: Self-awareness is the daily starting point in your leadership journey.

Imagine yourself with a handful of coins in the palm of your hand. Now imagine these like your life coins, always in hand to grow your emotional wealth as a person.

  • on the ‘heads’ side of each coin is written one of the key life values you aspire to live by e.g. respect or equality or integrity or truth etc. On the ‘the tail’ side of the coin is also written a word. A trait that surfaces in your behavior if not living to your value. As a leader, get to know your life coins and recognize when they are showing up tails.

  • For example one of my life coins has the word Integrity written on it. Operating with integrity is very important to me. On the other side, it says Falsity. I know if I am insincere when speaking with someone, I am not being fully present and living to my own values. My life coins help guide me like a compass to get back on course when I go off in the wrong direction.

Tip 4: Know WHY you are wanting to lead - to inspire greatness in others

My ambition in leading is always to inspire greatness in others and to act selflessly in that task. Like others, I make mistakes and fail often. It takes a small amount of everyday bravery and consistent effort to lead. A good leader coaches, but a great leader is coachable. If you are not taking risks and embracing failure you are not truly leading and inspiring others. Work to learn fast, fail faster and win together.

Tip 5: Leadership inspires people on the journey while management motivates action to secure the goal. People must be inspired to act! Take the time to properly recognize when you are managing towards a goal and when you are leading people on a journey. Both are needed but remember nothing happens well unless someone is believing and feeling inspired to act.

Tip 6: Every day ask yourself, Am I being consistent in my behavior, what am I not seeing, who have I not included? Have I properly respected each person I’ve touched, Did I take ownership of my risks and did I inspire people to find the best solution for their needs?

Tip 7: Show the benefits you bring as a leader, by building an empowered culture.

Time and time again my leadership experiences show me that all people matter, every one of us. Your personal brand is always present, and in the absence of you knowing it, your followers will define it. Respecting and appreciating a person’s contribution is a key benefit you bring into a situation. As a leader, you exist so each person feels inspired and acts with empowerment. As a leader, you have the opportunity to build a culture of people feeling impossible means “I’m possible”.

Tip 8: There is no leadership without at least 1 follower. Many managers consider “leadership” as an additional task and not as a critical part of their role. Leadership is about connecting and inspiring people through your own authenticity. Being people first, not task-driven is what helps make a good leader a great leader. A good leader gains followers by being goal-driven. A great leader sets out to build a lasting community.

Tip 9: Define a formula for harnessing your leadership energy to validate your making the right actions for the right reasons. Let me share mine. It's what I use for finding and tapping into the abundance of people’s energy to inspire their greatness.

Leadership energy = (R.I.S.K - F.E.A.R) * T.R.U.S.T. to the power of people led.

The secret in applying the formula is knowing what the words mean as a leader.

  • R.I.S.K = Relationships Influenced by Skills & Knowledge

  • F.E.A.R = False Evidence Appearing Real

  • T.R.U.S.T = Truth Revealed Under Safe Terms

  • People = The people you seek to truly inspire in finding their greatness.

Tip 10: People don’t follow you because you have a leader label, they follow because you show why you believe in something, which is a reflection of how you make them feel. Remember: “A good leader coaches, but a great leader is coachable”

So there you are, our top 10 tips for living as a great leader and inspiring others to find their greatness.

Interested to hear more?

Call +1 604 425 2266 | email info@sixfactor.com or contact Andy directly at andy@sixfactor.com