Quotes to Live By
A Quote to Live By

Is Leadership a State of Mind?

Fashion icon and Harper's Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland once said, "The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it."

It got me thinking about how much power we have or don't have over our own states of mind. If elegance is indeed a state of mind, then can leadership be an acquired mindset as well? I would posit that it is.

Some appear to be born leaders, and it's true that some people do have an innate sense of their DUCKLEADER_Full leadership qualities and how to put them into practice no matter what field they're in or whatever endeavor they embark on. But, there are ways to recognize and adopt a leadership state of mind. One way to do this is to examine the differences between a "manager mindset" and a "leader mindset". Both roles are necessary, but it's when you truly think and act like a leader that people and opportunities are drawn to you like magnets. And, it is then that you experience excellence and satisfaction in your career in ways you never dreamed.

  • Managers think in terms of tasks. Leaders think in terms of big picture ideas.
  • Managers tend to stay within a "checkers strategy", utilizing minimal input and not thinking too far beyond the to-do list. Leaders use "chess strategy", bringing in players to represent all points of view so the strategy is well thought out with fewer chances of unwelcome surprises. It enables them to see various scenarios in advance.
  • Managers color inside the lines, working inside a plan. Leaders look for ways to move, change or remove the lines all together, challenging and improving the plan.
  • Managers say "look at what we've done." Leaders say "how can we do what we haven't done?"
  • Managers many times find themselves in defensive mode, left to explaining "here's why it didn't get done." Leaders turn a defensive stance into a positive offense, stating the realities, but also "here's the opportunity to change the reality - new markets, ideas, products, etc." 
  • A manager mindset can feel threatened by talented co-workers. Leaders surround themselves with talent equal to or better than their own.
  • Managers control. Leaders influence.
  • A manager's result-focus is smaller, immediate and linear. A leader's result-focus is company-wide and spherical or web-like.
  • A manager's agenda can be project-oriented with the manager as the key driver. Leaders are consistent and long-term contributors, collaborators and delegators always looking for team members to champion as drivers.  
  • Managers can be worker bees who keep their head down. Leaders are the queen bees who have an impact on the entire organization. The really effective leaders have a joyful, powerful and effective energy about them.

Managers manage. Leaders lead. 

It doesn't matter what your title says. Strong, forward-thinking companies crave leaders at every level. And, these same mindset principles apply in other areas of your life as well, whether you're leading an event, running a household or spear-heading a committee.

What's your mindset? You have it within you to change yours and be the leader you were innately meant to be.


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