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The Three Leadership Mindsets – The Moment, The Outcome, The People

The Three Leadership Mindsets – The Moment, The Outcome, The People

If you spend too much time scrolling the news these days, you’d be forgiven for concluding that leadership at a geopolitical level is immersed in a quagmire of self-interest and partisan politics. There are no winners when leaders forget that great leaders serve, not just their fan–club but the entire team.

Flawless leadership is adapting the fighter pilot mindset into a simple and scalable leadership framework that allows leaders to invest in moments where they have great control and to influence leadership moments, they have very little control while leading large populations of diverse people.

Leading Moments

Flawless Leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept; it’s the art of leading in the moment. Whether it’s guiding a team through an emergency, steering ourselves towards excellence in manufacturing, or leading a highly motivated and hungry sales force, Flawless Leadership is a multifaceted approach to leadership that encompasses various skills and methods, built around moments in time. There are three core moments that require different mindsets.

Leading in the moment. Requiring a mindset focused on gaining situational awareness and adapting to real world execution vs reacting. Leaders make quick, relatively simple decisions, measured in seconds and minutes.

Leading an outcome. Whether it’s a discreet objective, cyclical one, or a quarterly sales goal, the mindset we bring is one around clarity, alignment and intentional reflection on progress, to adjust our plans to reality rapidly and collaboratively. Leaders facilitate team level decisions, measured in days and weeks.

Leading the people. The most challenging leadership moment are those influenced by biases and beliefs, best articulated as “politics” or relationship-based leadership. The mindset we bring to people leadership is one of influence through credibility and trust. The better we lead in the moment and the more successful we are as leaders delivering outcomes, the more influence we exert when leading people.  Leaders influence long-term complex decisions. Leaders facilitate team level decisions, measured in months and years.

Leading the Moment

One key aspect of Flawless Leadership is the ability to understand leadership moments, and how to adapt your leadership style to each moment. There are numerous moments in a day, tens in a week and thousands in a year. How you lead each moment will have a profound impact on your short to medium term goals and your ability to influence the long term. Using your soft skills in project or program leadership is just as ineffective as using your technical leadership skills when in a people leader role.

In high-stakes situations, decisions must be made swiftly and effectively. It’s about staying calm under pressure, relying on experience, and having the foresight to make decisions that can mean the difference between success and failure.

The keys to leading in the moment are:

  1. Effective standard practice that every team member understands.
  2. Simple daily plans, well briefed and understood by the team.
  3. Delegated decision making around set criteria empowering every team member to make decisions based on what’s happening vs perception.

Leading the Outcome

Flawless Leadership extends beyond just individual decision-making. It involves leading oneself and a team towards continuous improvement and excellence. A leader cannot ask a team to do a better job, be on time or more productive with time, unless they demonstrate the discipline themselves. It’s about fostering a sense of unity within a team—leading “we” rather than just “me.” It’s a collaborative effort where every member plays a crucial role, creating a synergy that propels the entire team towards success.

The keys to leading in the moment are:

  1. Training and developing standard practice and checklists that every team member understands and has access to.
  2. Simple plans, developed with a sprint mentality, allowing aligned and focused effort, while mitigating distraction and ambiguity.
  3. Establish the decision-making criteria so each team member has a clear understanding of their role and responsibility and when to act unilaterally or collaboratively.

Leading People

Undoubtedly, leading people is the most complex and challenging facet of leadership.  As fighter pilots say, it’s like herding cats. Unlike other leadership moments, leading individuals involves dealing with diverse personalities, beliefs, biases, motivations, and emotions, including your own as a leader. If there is a perception the leader is in it for themselves, and studies show this is the perception of 69% of the workforce, we lose credibility, trust, and our power to influence. Leading people takes patience, purposeful collaboration, conversations, and consistency around the impact you’re trying to make.

The keys to leading in the moment are:

  1. Use “impact focused” thinking. Always speak to what the impact of the initiative you are embarking upon will achieve. Speak to the level of the individual in addition to the big picture. Use debriefing techniques to connect today’s reality to the actions required to deliver the impact of tomorrow.
  2. Build your plan will all stakeholders. Don’t tell people your plan, co-create it. Be authentic and ensure you excel at leading in the moment and leading outcomes. This is the bedrock to your credibility.
  3. Be flexible with your decision making. You may concede ground early. Remain curious. What may seem to you a concession, may serve the bigger picture. As they say, play the long game.

Reflection on Leadership

Flawless Leadership is an ongoing journey, a pursuit of excellence in the face of challenges and the human condition. Leadership is understanding you are there to serve. To serve effectively, you must be humble and approachable.  To turn your ideas or strategy into impact, you must be credible to build trust, as trust is the ultimate, accelerator of performance. As we navigate the complex terrain of leadership, let us draw inspiration from those on the frontlines, honing the art of Flawless Leadership to navigate the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Christian Boucousis is a Keynote in this year’s Leadership & Innovation Online Conference! Register today.

When it comes to unlocking human potential and achieving organizational success, former fighter pilot Christian “Boo” Boucousis, CEO of Afterburner Inc. brings a truly unique perspective. Forced out of the Australian Air Force with an auto-immune disorder, he adapted his fighter pilot mindset to become a successful business founder, author, and inspirational speaker. 

The secret? It comes down to a simple philosophy. Boo believes performance is what you believe, not what you do. 

From small businesses to startups, or Nike, Microsoft, and Google, Boo inspires people to invest in a new way of thinking that empowers them to drive purpose-driven performance and the belief that even the most audacious ambitions are within your reach. 

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.

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