It all begins at the top. From corporates to countries, it is the leaders who influence the behaviour, patterns, and decisions among the people they are leading. This article explains the importance of a positive mindset in leadership.
So, it stands to reason that leaders should have a positive mindset because the thought leadership that they put into their own actions, decides the course of action for their subordinates.
How to build a positive mindset?
With most of us, positivity is an expression of ownership. For instance, you may have noticed that a place where everyone thinks like an owner, like have complete responsibility and ownership of their tasks, is a workplace where everyone is pioneering and proactive. This translates into a place where people are more focused on finding solutions rather than being stalled by the problems.
Only a leader who has perfected the art of letting go, can build a work environment like this. Letting go of control is a significant mark of positive leadership.
Can you control the way your biology functions? Are you in control of your thoughts? You are not.
So, when you cannot control all these key aspects of your life, how can you establish authority over others’ behaviour? The moment you realise this, the whole concept of “being in control” ends.
Insecurity is what lies at the root of this need to take control. People who fear losing control, for instance, they believe that if they let go of their command, they will become less necessary in the organisation, and will eventually be replaced or lose their jobs. This is a false notion, because the more you let go of control, the more time you gain. You can use this time to focus on your goals, and on upgrading yourself further.
It’s true, not everyone can run an organisation. Businesses need someone to set a vision, then lead the team to build towards it, but to do that in a more egalitarian fashion is a skill that leaders need to hone.
This form of leadership especially thrives in volunteer-run organisations, where control over the workforce is rarely possible, and yet volunteers must be led to achieve the set vision.
There are certain principles that these leaders follow, and they have succeeded in them.
Walk the talk
Lead others by doing things first. Set an example by walking your talks.
In the book ‘The Leader Who Had No Title’ by Robin Sharma, he says, “To Be a Great Leader, First Become a Great Person”. When you lead by example, and let others follow, there is no need to issue orders. This type of leadership generates a sense of ownership among all employees, who then try to emulate the example set by leadership.
A good leader creates more leaders, not followers. He or she delegates more, instead of micromanaging.
I am associated with Heartfulness, an international non-profit organisation, where most of the work is managed by volunteers. Their mode of operation is probably the best example of the kind of leadership of which I speak.
Whenever a task is assigned to a group of volunteers, I always see the assigner to be the first to take action, the rest follow, and within no time the goal is achieved.
The best way to lighten a situation and enthuse a team to reach a goal is using humour.
Dr Ichak Adizes, my mentor friend, and a noted author says, “Humour relaxes. Humour releases negative energy.” According to him if you can think of problems not as crises, but just as problems that can be laughed at, you can make other people laugh too. This helps in breaking the ice, and in lightening a potential aggressive situation.
Laughter may be used by people to release their tension, but watch out before cracking that joke. Cultural barriers must be respected. I have seen many managers, who in order to humourize a situation start using personal stories as examples, which makes people uncomfortable.
So, be mindful, or better still, take a cue from your team, and do some background research before choosing to apply humour.
Balance your head and heart
To let go of control, the most important thing is to find the right balance between your head and heart. My spiritual Guide, Daaji always says, “The Heart is the compass, whereas mind is the calculator”.
To be a successful leader, you need to maintain balance by listening to both the head and the heart.
It is simple. When you need to meet a deadline, or stand by your commitment, use your head, and it will allow you to let go of distractions. But for everything else, take your heart along. Think with your heart too.
Communications really happen through the heart. Try yelling at someone while issuing orders to get a task done, and pay heed to what is happening inside your heart.
It is not only the other person who gets stressed out, but also you yourself. And stress as we all know, blocks our thought process.
When you think with the heart, compassion increases, which then helps in communicating effectively with your team.
Show anger but don’t be angry
A very fine skill that I have learned over the years and could only achieve with the help of meditation, is to show my anger without actually losing my cool. There are times when you need to handle your team with a hard hand. And there is nothing wrong with this as long as you are aware of your mission, which is to only put your thoughts across, but not be angry while delegating, or teaching someone the lesson.
Mark Twain once said, “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
In our culture, in earlier days if someone lost their calm, it was considered as wrong. But, today the same aggression is linked to male pride or pride of the position.
This is not how a leader should be thinking. Rather compassion, and empathy should be associated with pride.
When you start thinking compassionately, it automatically tones down your anger, and that is how you should take charge of any situation. Show your anger, but don’t be angry.
Get out of comfort zone
When you are dynamic in your actions, and creative in your thoughts, your vision automatically attracts the attention of others.
But creativity and dynamism can only happen when a person stretches beyond their comfort zone. Introspect, and see how often you get stuck in deep-rooted habits.
I recently came across the book “Better Than Perfect” in which author Dr Elizabeth Lombardo says, “Breaking your own mould can only make you stronger and more confident to reach higher levels in your professional and personal life.”
You cannot do something, only as long as you think it cannot be done. But, when you take that first step, that is when things start happening.
A true leader is someone who can take on the stress of others and gives them a reason to smile through their jobs.
But for that a true leader must know how to balance, when to hold the team together, and when letting go is important, so as to ensure people don’t feel suffocated.
A positive leader always has clear perception, distinctive observation, and dignified expression.
About the Author
Sanjay Sehgal is a proven innovator, serial entrepreneur, meditation instructor and a self-development enthusiast who has built and managed several companies.
He is the Chairman & CEO of MSys Technologies – a reliable partner for product engineering services and digital transformation projects for its ISV and Enterprise clientele, MSys Training is North America’s leading professional certification training providing company and Mobinius, India’s leading digital transformation and mobile app development company. Get to know him at Sehgalnotes.