Leadership: Develop Your Mindset Before Your Skills

If you’ve gone above and beyond on your CPD; if you’ve spent time, money and energy on your professional development to hone your leadership skills then I may have some bad news for you.

Practicing skills isn’t the most effective way of developing as a leader.

To be more precise; intense, focused and repetitive practice of one skill might make you feel like you’re progressing but that doesn’t translate out there in the real world.

Sorry to be so blunt, but I’m guessing you’d rather know while there’s time to do something about it.

But what to do? Leadership doesn’t depend on a few skills or even many skills. It’s a mindset that shapes everything you do. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at why practice doesn’t work.

The biggest shake up to the cherished idea that practice makes perfect is Frans Johannson’s idea of domain dependency. The idea shows that fields with specific and unchanging rules to learn (tennis and chess for example) lend themselves well to the hours of practice to mastery model. In less predictable domains, like business and entrepreneurship, that model doesn’t work.

What most intrigued me was a detail in the original Princeton study on domain dependency. It showed practice made a tiny 1% difference in individual professional performance.

Does that leave you feeling like those CPD hours are just a tick-box exercise?

All in the Mindset

And that brings us back to mindset. A leadership mindset is about a way of looking at the world. And that worldview informs your attitude. That attitude translates into behaviours. And those behaviours look a lot like leadership.

That’s a long way from blogs that list the five practices of leadership, or rules successful people live by, or some other list of clickbait diktat. In reality we know it’s just not like that, and following all the rules or practices in the world won’t make us leaders in our fields, or achieve our goals.

The thing about mindset is it’s hard to develop. And it’s hard to embed unless there’s a cultural shift in a business. And that’s where HR comes in.

It’s you: the HR professional that has it in your power to introduce a strategy of cultivating a leadership mindset. In senior staff first and then throughout the whole business.

Do that and leadership isn’t something we leave to directors, it’s something that lives and breathes in our workplace.

It’s the mindset of personal responsibility, initiative and yes, increased profitability.

Imagine how that would change things.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.

Author: Joe Britto

Joe is a psychological coach, writer, interactive consultant and founder of Innate Leaders. He works with a wide range of leaders from organizations including non-profits as well as the public and private sectors. His work focuses on creating long term sustainable change by developing a leadership mindset throughout an organization.

Share This Post On
468 ad