July 29, 2019

Are You a Mindless or Mindful Entrepreneurial Leader?

Susan Schwartz

Susan Schwartz
Unearths Leadership Potential Within Key Technical Staff /The River Birch Group

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Current industry wisdom tells new entrepreneurs to identify their core values and design their product brand around these foundation concepts to increase their probability of success. How many new companies begin with this solid footing and then fail?  Is it a matter of timing, a lack of funds, or just bad luck?  Is there a strategy that entrepreneurial leaders can practice to better ensure success?

A few years ago, I heard a podcast by Dr. Ellen Langer who studied what differentiated a successful Harvard MBA graduate from an unsuccessful. They entered the program with similar scores and took the same courses.  Yet, several years after graduation, some are significantly more successful than others.

Her findings identified success as a matter of mindset and perspective.  She discovered that mindless leaders identify lessons learned and when another circumstance occurs replicates the lessons EXACTLY as they were documented. These leaders do not consider the possibility that the situation might be different than the environment when the original lessons learned were documented.  I call this linear thinking because decision makers adhere to a straight-line evaluation method.  They don’t take into account that different people, solution requirements, or organization structures may need the lesson learned adapted in order for the current resolution to be successful.

Given the only constant we can count on is change, mindful leaders review the lessons learned, compares the current situation, and adapts the previous solution to best meet the requirements for today’s challenge.  I call this layered thinking because decision makers consider multiple perspectives as they work through the evaluation process.

In fact, Langer discovered many of these mindful leaders took their analysis a step further and created a template or checklist so that when a similar situation occurred in the future, there was a system in place to review, compare, and adapt new solutions.   

How would your team describe you?  Are you executing your value-based plan as a mindful or a mindless leader?

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