Five Powerful Patterns Outstanding Leaders Use to Think Differently
With so much information at our hands today, we can’t become influential leaders by solely relying on old-fashioned methods. To create value for a business, you need to be able to do more than just put together a fancy presentation and come up with long, impressive words at meetings. Great thinkers are successful leaders. They know how to solve problems, they know how to unleash possibilities, and they know how to achieve the impossible. Here are five powerful patterns outstanding leaders use to think differently.
What comes to mind when you think of a great leader?
There are certain traits a person has that separates them from the rest of the crowd. If you stop and think about it, it all starts with their philosophy. The way they view life and how they want to influence and empower the lives of others makes all the difference in the world. To be a successful leader, you need motivation, drive, passion, and the ability to think outside the box.
If you want to be a leader, you will have to think like a leader.
The easiest way for us to mimic and replicate the success of all the great people out there is by learning and adopting their thinking. Most people are not successful because they are not thinking like successful people. What we think we become. So start to think differently from now on if you seriously want to produce outstanding success in your life. Developing leadership potential to its maximum requires mastering various types of thinking. However technical or specialized your area of expertise, leadership is not always reducible to prescribed steps or calculations.
The way you think as a leader in your organization is one of your most valuable assets.
Your mindset affects what you believe and that will dictate what actions you take. Your thoughts will either help or hurt your growth—successful leaders understand this better than most. Leadership doesn’t emerge by accident to produce results that are totally random. There is a subtle but perceptible strategy and rationale for the way leaders think. People who go to the top think differently than others, and they achieve more than most.
Let’s consider how leaders think. There are at least five distinct ways that make them stand out from the crowd.
The mind of a leader is in near-constant motion. What every leader needs to consider, is whether or not that motion is producing something worthwhile. After all, activity doesn’t equal accomplishment—especially in your thinking. So how do you think like a leader?
Leaders Explore Big-picture Thinking
If demands and requests are not on strategy to help achieve the most important goals set out by you and your company, they aren’t worth your time (at least not for now). Stay on strategy and avoid off-strategy demands that take up your time, energy, and resources. A real leader is able to recognize the value of requests and decline those that will not create an immediate benefit to the cause.
Great leaders think differently from others because they have a road map of where they want to go, what they want to accomplish and how they want to empower the lives of others.
Ever heard of a road map? Imagine if you had a road map in your own life. Do you know which directions to take and which roads to be cautious about? Great leaders have an understanding of the different “what if” situations and how they will handle them. It’s all about thinking before making any big decisions and looking at all sides of the situation. Once you know which directions to take, you are the one that shines the light on others to follow you.
There is a common fallacy in the workplace that one job contributes more than others to the success of the project or company.
It is a great thing when employees realize that what they do is important. It is not so good, however, when the needs of the other employees and other affiliated organizations are discounted. Local optimization can result in less than optimal total performance. Explain to your teams the bigger picture. Look at the needs of the other teams and individuals. Understand the other’s position. Explain your organization’s role and the roles of your internal suppliers and internal customers. Keep focused on the end-to-end process, not only your link in the chain.
Seeing the bigger picture means thinking about how your actions can affect the overall success of a project or company aim, rather than focusing on minor details.
Big-picture thinking can be crucial for achievement in the workplace because knowing what to focus on can help you budget your time efficiently, manage stress levels and create actionable, achievable goals. By striving to see the big picture at work, you can ensure you understand the connections between basic tasks and long-term targets, which can make the goals you create more efficient and achievable. While detail-oriented thinkers may strive to achieve the highest quality product within a specific time period, big-picture thinkers focus on meeting quality standards and moving on with production.
Every decision, big or small, has an implication or consequence.
Big picture thinking calls for you to think beyond just what these decisions mean in the short-term but their implications months, and even years down the line. It can help if you always keep in mind the fact that a single decision can create a ripple effect and far-reaching consequences. Strategic thinking looks for what works. If their methods and processes work, then, by all means, jump on board. You can also think of ways to improve the whole thing and make it even more efficient.
Leaders Execute With a Goal in Mind
What kind of visions do you have? Great leaders think differently because of their visions and the actions they plan on taking when turning their visions into a reality. What is the purpose of your vision? Why do you want to live out your vision? Asking yourself these questions will help you get clear with your message. What separates you from others? It’s all about creating that which you desire to exist!
Mark Zuckerberg believes that in order to succeed, you need to do what matters most to you.
The founder of Facebook had became one of the youngest billionaires in the world when Facebook filed for IPO back in 2012. He once said that, “A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” He did not started Facebook as a company. In fact, Mark said that the reason he started Facebook was because he wanted to create something that can connect most people and so that those people could share more openly with their own community. Identify what is important to you and do that. Most people never do. They do things that are urgent, but not important. Things that are important usually has less effect in the short-term, but over the long-term, it will change your life.
Results-focused leaders are driven by their end goal. It is their concentration on achievement, vs. on the means of routine operations that defines them.
Less masterful managers strive for optimization but can be inclined to do so, as much or more for the sake of managing routines than for the maximization of progress toward the accomplishment of their purpose. Operational staff in organizations led by results-oriented managers approach their work with that sense of urgency that characterizes teams’ behavior in the most productive workplaces. However achievement is evaluated, members of results-driven teams have a strong sense of their shared priorities and singular mission, and are all fully focused on delivery.
We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish by focusing on something for a week, and underestimate what can be accomplished if we focus on something for a year.
The problem with most of us is not that we don’t dream big enough, it’s that our dreams and goals get lost in the shuffle each working day. The biggest casualty of the daily grind, surprisingly, is not your inboxes (they eventually get emptied), your meeting schedule (you make your meetings) or the urgent things that have to get done. The casualty is the important things. The things that will drive your life and organization forward. The thing that will fuel your mission, move you to another level and the thing that will inevitably give you the deepest satisfaction.
There is a reason why goals are so important. Goals push us to do better. Goals give us focus and direction.
If you want to succeed you need to set goals. Goal setting allows you to take control of your life’s or company’s direction and provides you a benchmark for determining whether or not you are succeeding. Start with strategy when deciding on which goals to pursue. Remember that the role of leaders is two-fold: helping drive near-term performance and ensuring long-term sustainability to prepare for the future. Your goals should reflect this! To avoid this “goal clutter” we need to reduce and reframe our goals. First, determine what is your BHAG — your big hairy audacious goal you want to achieve this year that will help you step into your vision of success. Then consider what truly motivates you. What are you willing to spend your discretionary effort on? Have you truly bought into the potential outcomes of reaching this goal? Only set goals that are so meaningful that you would allocate your precious time and valuable energy to them!
Leaders value Their Time Above All Else
One way great leaders think differently is the way in which they use their time. They understand in their mind that time is precious and using it wisely is much more beneficial than wasting time. Great leaders value their time and how they want to spend it. When you’re a leader, you’ll have a busy schedule, so being able to use good time management skills will allow you to be much more productive and carry out your vision. Being able to organize your priorities and having the discipline to carry out your priorities is one great trait that leaders have.
Successful leaders value time above money because they realize time is the one thing you can’t get back or make more of.
They maximize their time by saying NO to things that don’t benefit their goals and the work they’re putting in. They realize time is precious and do what they can to avoid wasting it. Your time is your most valuable commodity and it should be treated accordingly. In business, this means saying NO to meetings that don’t make sense. It means that all the bright shiny objects don’t sidetrack you. It means you focus on what will help your next steps.
Even the most conscientious time managers tend to fall into the same trap: spending too much time on the low-hanging fruit.
It might feel extremely productive to answer all your emails, organize your computer files, and clean your desk, but maybe they’re not the most important things for you to do. This is why so many people believe in identifying the most important task (MIT) each day and tackling it first thing in the morning before moving on to anything else. If you’re freshest and most alert in the morning, like many are, it’s the perfect time to dedicate to your biggest priority. Then, once you’ve completed all the “must-do” activities of the day, you can gradually make your way through the “would-be-good-to-do” ones.
Time management is important in leadership because, without this skill, your leadership will be ineffective, unproductive, and unorganized.
As a leader, having good time management skills is crucial to foster a positive team environment and bring out the best of those who you are leading. Many people mistakenly believe that leaders need to overwork themselves to get results. But this just isn’t true. You don’t need to work all hours of the day to be a great leader. Really, you just have to work efficiently and create a timeframe in order to see optimal results. Being a good leader is more than getting work completed. You have to make time to lead your team and help bring out their potential. However, if you are always busy, you won’t have time to truly improve your leadership skills and teamwork.
Sometimes, managers struggle with delegation, but doing so is an important part of time management as a leader.
The best way to complete all of your tasks is to prioritize them by importance and delegate if you are working within a team. Identify the strengths of each team member to ensure that they work on tasks they can enjoy. This will increase the quality of the work delivered and the productivity of your colleagues. A good manager does not take on all the work themselves but instead is able to assign work to employees so that he or she can oversee all employees. Delegating tasks allows management to concentrate on other things, such as overseeing employees or coming up with new ideas that will improve the business as a whole.
Leaders Look for the New Angle
When Walt Disney was young, he loved to draw and has intense passion for arts and cartoon. And you imagine that from a cartoonist, he created his own envisioned theme park. It is mesmerizing to think about what human can possibly achieve, only if they dared to dream. Like most successful people out there, Disney started with visions and dreams. This is how being visionary should be. We may not have the power to predict the future, but we do have the power to imagine our dream and dream our dream.
Leaders innovate and create.
It might be a new product, a new process, a new system, a new theory, a new piece of literature or music, or something else innovative or inventive. They combine old elements in new ways, discover new uses for old substances, and explore new methods in hopes of greater effectiveness and efficiency. Steve Jobs was someone who truly motivated by his work. He believed that the only way to get satisfied and truly feel the happiness deep within is through doing great work. And in order to create great work, you need to love what you do and have a strong passion for it.
Nothing hurts a leader like small thinking. When you’re at the top of the decision ladder, you need to bring your A-game to every situation.
Pushing the envelope with creativity and vision is essential for a leader. The reason is simple: everyone else will try and talk your ideas down. And that’s good—you need people on your team who will challenge you and reign you in. But that means it’s your job to think big so that the ideas you settle on aren’t too small. Big thinking isn’t reckless thinking either. It’s just big. You are responsible for the big picture, and big picture thinking by nature cannot be small—otherwise, we’d call it small picture thinking. Reality still must come into play, but that doesn’t mean you can’t define a new, larger reality to chase.
Integrative thinking is an imaginative thinking process that allows a person to see patterns or connections among abstract ideas and then put them all together to create a coherent picture of a situation or challenge.
This can be challenging to leaders from technical backgrounds, but it’s a thinking pattern that sets exceptional leaders apart from the merely adequate. Integrative thinking is fed by continual learning across a broad range of subjects and concepts. Imaginative thinking, like integrative thinking, is also creative, but it’s even more primitive in the sense that it involves the creation of new ideas from scratch, and being able to adjust a viewpoint in order to see possibilities and opportunities that a less competent leader might miss out on altogether. The nuts and bolts are important, but so are original ideas. Great technical competence is one thing, but when paired with creativity it can go infinitely further.
To make things run smoothly, most businesses favor what they know, standardization and doing things simply. Innovation, however, takes the road less traveled.
As rationality doesn’t select innovation, it can be considered risky, but following the safe low-risk route will not help you build a unicorn company and change the status quo. An innovation-friendly organization is an amalgam of culture, methodologies, infrastructure and healthy work practices. It prompts employees to think outside of their nine to five mentality, giving real value to their roles. Leaders in an organization that encourage this kind of culture understand that innovation drives growth, and a workforce can only achieve this with a growth-positive attitude and shared passion for operating outside the norm.
Leaders Leverage Risk-oriented Thinking
Highly successful leaders think big and dream bigger than most. When you learn how to push the envelope and dare to go where no one else has even looked yet, you’ll be admired as a risk taker, someone who dares to gamble–and because you dare more, you’ll have more.
Warren Buffett is the successful investor that tons of people wanted to learn from. He is well-known for his business and investment mindset.
He started out his investment as early as at age of 11. Can you imagine that? Investing in stocks at the age of 11. What were you doing when you are at 11? Playing games? Well, we can’t change the past, so let’s just focus in the future and do what we can now. Regardless of whether you are running your own business or are trying to do investment, risk involved. And you need to make the decision to handle risk. Most people think that risk only appear in business and investment. Wrong.
Failure is a natural part of life and business. Successful leaders understand that failure teaches you invaluable life lessons.
They decide to learn instead of giving up. They view failure as a sign that they’re continuing to grow. If you are not experiencing failure in your leadership journey, you probably aren’t taking enough action. If you hit every goal you set without much resistance, you probably aren’t setting big enough goals. Some of your goals should be so big that they feel impossible to hit. Use those “impossible” goals as your motivation to never get complacent.
Risk is contextual. If you have no business knowledge and no skills in running a business, you will face higher risk.
Same goes for everything you do in life. If you want to build be professional tennis player, you will have to reduce the risk of losing by practicing and training. Successful people like Warren Buffett will only take calculated risk. They learn the skills and the acquire as much knowledge as possible before they make the decision to go into it. You have to be the same. Everyone can be successful and create outstanding results in their life. As long as they learn, they master the game, improve their knowledge and skills and keep taking action toward what they desire.
Great leaders don’t become great by being predictable and playing it safe.
Don’t get me wrong, there is merit in being consistent, and all risks should have some level of consideration — but, don’t overanalyze. People can talk themselves out of anything and in risk taking you can’t let yourself get paralyzed in the details. It might never be the perfect time, with the perfect set of circumstances, but at some point you just have to do it. Take the risk, make the move. People will respect you for it.
Becoming a leader doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a specific set of skills and a mindset that can only be acquired with time. That said, by implementing some of the various ways of thinking, acting, and reacting mentioned above, you will be leading yourself and your teams to success in no time!
Being successful and creating outstanding success is simple, but it may not be easy.
It took a lot of hard work, a lot of pain, you have to overcome a lot of setbacks, need a lot of drive and take a lot of action in order to produce the outstanding results that you desire. Start by adopting these five ways how great leaders think. And soon enough, you will act like them and are able to produce the same amazing result like they did.
You are part of building your organization—it starts with your thoughts.
Feed your mind daily with content that inspires and motivates you to the best version of yourself. Stay away from toxic people or situations that will fill your mind with doubt and fear. Embrace what makes you unique and study what your employees best respond to. There’s nothing wrong with modeling success, but modeling isn’t copying. Don’t follow conventional wisdom—think differently.
The way you think about leadership is a reflection of your greatness — what I refer to as your 1%.
It’s one of the ways you elevate your uniqueness. Choose to think like a leader…and you’ll elevate your character and your goals. Choose to act like a leader…and you’ll elevate your achievements. That said, thinking is rarely a one-way street. Just like healthy eating and exercise are the surest—and least used—methods for setting aside time to think and actually thinking are the best way to combat overwhelm. Thinking is how leaders—good leaders—take their people to the top.
The best leaders are usually the best thinkers. Start today to learn their habits and cultivate their success.
Much of leadership takes place in the mind and heart of the leader. Sure, he or she has the technical mastery necessary to get things done, but other thought patterns are essential for maximizing leadership effectiveness. What this means is that the exceptional leader is never done with learning, and continues to challenge him- or herself to look at things from different angles and occasionally go in an unexpected direction. Let me know what you think about this post. Share your thoughts with me in the comment section below.
Digital Dandy. Hacker From Heart. Workaholic. Coding Artist. Self-made.