Cultivating A Powerful Mindset For Success

By Nicole Melville
Director, Strategy & Business Development | Innovative Solutions Company Ltd.



Diary of a Leader: Cultivating a Powerful Mindset for Success
The mind of a leader can be described as cogent, determined, strategic, and in many cases extraordinary. The mindset required to lead in a landscape of complexity and constant change embodies elements of courage, authenticity, and a strong sense of self-confidence and self-worth, underpinned by positive, robust values. However, leadership is not an esoteric science. Everyone can learn to lead, and teams deserve to be properly led. 

Navigating the path to leadership success often requires more than just skill and experience. It demands a powerful mindset that empowers leaders to thrive in their respective leadership roles. The diary of a leader gives a snapshot into the unique journey of a leader intent on driving meaningful transformation within self, teams, and organisations. 

Authenticity and Credibility
Diary Entry
"A staff member was visibly distressed today. She had to make a decision about moving on from the company. The prospect alarmed me. Instead of solely focusing on the tasks at hand and the loss, I made it a point to have a conversation with her and gain a deeper understanding of her situation. She made the best decision and for that I was happy. Interestingly, offering her support and flexibility made a significant difference in her morale and productivity."

At the heart of inclusive leadership is empathy and authenticity. It is the ability to genuinely understand and connect with the experiences, perspectives, and emotions of the team. John Maxwell’s Law of Credibility, says, “Your most effective message is the one you live.” William Shakespeare’s famous quote “To thine own self be true” is the life of an authentic leader.

Authentic leaders are genuine, consistent, transparent, and true to themselves. This makes them honest and influential communicators because they communicate from a place of credibility. They cultivate authenticity by embracing vulnerability, owning their strengths and weaknesses, and leading with integrity and honesty. These leaders inspire trust and loyalty within the team. 

Authentic leaders are strong and empathetic. Women in leadership are often lauded for their natural empathy. They understand and connect with the emotions and experiences of others, fostering collaboration, inclusivity, and mutual respect. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Applied Psychology titled "Gender and Leadership Style: A Meta-Analysis" revealed that women often embrace participative and transformational leadership styles. These styles prioritise collaboration, empowerment, and vision-building. Different perspectives are appreciated, and everyone’s genius is celebrated. These skills, however, are not gender specific, and all leaders can break down barriers, foster trust, and build bridges of understanding across diverse groups, inspiring empathy among teams. 

Self-Confidence and Self-Worth
Diary Entry
"Today, I faced a situation where a calculated decision that I made on the project was not the right one. It costed the company money, and I didn't have a proper justification. My confidence took a blow. I was so sure. Instead of being defensive, I admitted my mistake to the team. It was liberating, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. We worked together to find a solution, and the experience deepened our mutual trust. It was still gut-wrenching, though, and I had to wrestle with the pain and embarrassment. I struggled to not let the experience erode my self-confidence and self-worth."

My Reflection 
Strong self-confidence and self-worth constitute a powerful leadership mindset. Both are necessary. Jamie Kern Lima in her book, “Worthy”, defines the distinct differences between self-confidence and self-worth. She defines self-confidence as “how you evaluate yourself based on your qualities, skills and traits… linked to your assessment of how you compare to the outside world…” Self-worth is believing that you are enough and valuable exactly as you are regardless of how you evaluate your traits, independent of your strengths and weaknesses… your successes and failures.”

Unlike self-confidence, which is more dependent on the external efforts of training, and the honing of skills and attributes, self-worth is a much deeper, reflective work that takes place internally and remains unshaken by external changes whether positive or negative. Building the internal strength of self-worth helps leaders deal with the many external and internal frustrations and disappointments that come with leadership.
Leaders who embody both are appraised as not only highly skilled and ambitious, but they do not use their achievements to replace the internal work of building self-worth. They are more capable of evaluating failures when they occur and can assert themselves with confidence, inspire others and navigate complex leadership dynamics with resilience and determination. 

Good Decision-Making
Diary Entry
"Faced with a tough decision about resource allocation, I weighed the pros and cons meticulously. Not wanting to do it alone, I took time to consult with key stakeholders and consider the short and long-term vision of the organisation. The final decision was difficult to make, and not everyone was happy, but it felt right and aligned with our core values."

Good decision-making is a critical and sometimes anxiety-inducing responsibility for any leader. The leader must be armed with an integrous decision-making process. This type of leader can balance intuition with data-driven analysis while considering short-term impacts alongside long-term goals. The final decisions must be made in alignment with personal and/or organisational values.
A principle-centred leader is most empowered to make effective decisions. Such a leader can step back from the emotions of the moment, take a balanced view of the matter, and make wise decisions that emerge from a core that is value-based. Effective decision-making involves a clear understanding of personal and organisational vision, mission, and values, a thorough analysis of the options, weighing the timeliness of the verdict, the risks, available resources, and the stamina of the team or organisation to withstand the short-term and long-term impact of the decision. Leaders must be prepared to make difficult choices that are congruent with these principles and stand by them with confidence and transparency.

Lifelong Learning and Growth
Diary Entry
"I attended one of the best leadership workshops today. I listened to thought leaders from all over the world simplify powerful leadership values and practices. So many revelations! I committed to a lifelong personal growth journey. Learning from other leaders' experiences and reflecting on my own practices gave me new insights and strategies. If I stop learning, then I stop growing.” 

A powerful mindset is rooted in being a growth addict! The journey to staying relevant and adaptable requires a dedication to ongoing self-improvement and development. 

The growth of each leader is as unique as the leader. But here are some truths about growth. Growth is a decision. Growth is intentional. Hard work does not guarantee growth, although growth is hard work. Growth is predicated on a plan. And as John Maxwell says, “Growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow gets better”. How long does it take? The growth process is that rite of passage towards untapping the potential within. For a leader, that exciting journey takes a lifetime. There is always further to travel and more to discover; so, a true leader never stops growing and influencing growth within the team.

A growth mindset seeks out new challenges, evaluates failure and constructive criticism, and intentionally pursues opportunities to expand knowledge. Such leaders proactively stay ahead of the curve, innovate, and inspire their teams to grow. This is a sign of a leader’s true success– teams that are also growing through their influence. 

Embrace Failure
Diary Entry
“Today I got feedback that my project proposal failed to meet the acceptance criteria. It was tough sharing this with the team. We were looking forward to embarking on this project. But the team demonstrated such resilience. We rallied together to review and make appropriate recommendations and changes. We’re not giving up.”

Strong leaders train themselves to be comfortable with failure. The leader’s response to failure is the difference between success and ruin. Successful leaders see failure as crucial to success and these leaders possess the resilience to bounce back from adversity, learn from failures, and adapt to changing circumstances. Failure is inevitable. Failure is not to be feared, but leaders need to intentionally prepare for it, take risks, and fail forward. 

While good leaders establish well-thought-out risk mitigation plans, they also recognize intimately that failure is a critical part of the success journey. They create room for failure in the process of developing resilient leaders with the ability to bounce back from adversity in an unpredictable environment. 

Fear of failure stymies the learning process, almost guaranteeing the undesirable reprise of mistakes. The difference between leaders who fail and never recover and those who go on to succeed is directly related to their perception of failure and the way it is processed when it happens. These leaders learn to take a holistic, positive outlook, maintain perspective, reflect, assess the learning, and seek support from mentors, peers, and networks. They face failure with grace, dignity, and integrity and emerge stronger, more resilient, and better prepared to lead their teams toward success.

The Mindset of Mentoring and Multiplying Leaders 
Diary Entry
“Today, I felt so proud. I was present to see one of my mentees deliver her first presentation. She excelled, and I was beaming with pride. Her success was my success. I am growing in my respect for her as a leader. She is so excited to grow, and I’m honoured to be a part of the process.” 

The highest return on investment for a leader is multiplying successive leaders through a solid mentorship process. The quintessence of good leadership is the act of multiplying other good leaders. It is the best investment that a leader can make. Organisations never say, “We’ve sufficient leaders! We don’t need anymore!” Why? Because “Everything rises and falls on leadership” – John C. Maxwell. The truth is that ineffective leadership and leadership development are inimical to the health of an organisation. An organisation that ceases to develop leaders, ceases to grow and unquestionably falls into decline. 
In organisations, leaders often worry about identifying successors who exhibit the capacity and capability to receive the baton of leadership, with the same passion and drive for the team and company. However, developing leaders is a powerful and selfless act with inordinate benefits. It is also an opportunity to pay forward the investment of the previous generation of leaders by providing a platform of invaluable support, guidance, and wisdom for the next generation of leaders. 
The process of leadership development leverages the diverse perspectives and talents of their teams to drive innovation and achieve collective goals. This quote by Amy Tenney sums it up - “The world needs strong women. Women who will lift and build others, who will love and be loved, women who live bravely, both tender and fierce, women of indomitable will.” 

Women in Leadership  
Diary Entry 
“The line to the cashier was never-ending at lunchtime. “We only have thigh and wing.” The cashier’s petite hands were fixed on the register. The customer countered, with restrained belligerence, his voice louder than hers, “I don’t mind if the leg is small!” She remained calm, composed, friendly, and in charge of her space and the other cashiers with her. Not a board room, nor a CEO’s office. A simple environment. Our eyes made four and I smiled at her to encourage her calm professionalism and leadership.” 

Anyone can learn to lead and adopt the powerful mindset of a leader. According to Nancy Pelosi, “Women are leaders everywhere you look—from the CEO who runs a Fortune 500 company to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household. Our country was built by strong women, and we will continue to break down walls and defy stereotypes.” 
This statement is very true about women around the world and throughout history. I also believe that it’s true of our beautiful twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, which we call home. 


Nicole Melville is the Director, Strategy & Business Development at Innovative Solutions Company Ltd.