How to Think Like a Leader


“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

-Albert Einstein

Leaders do more than get things done … they create value. And creating value is not done with the wave of a magic wand … it requires a combination of identifying trade-offs, decision-making, and managing change, among other leadership skills. One of those other leadership skills seldom talked about, is thinking. So here are three simple tips to help you think like a leader.

Think Big – Leaders set specific big goals (not simply dollars, but goals that have a lasting impact and are worthy of pursuit) and develop a clear strategy to pursue them. They spend time reviewing company goals, reminding others of what they are, and getting their teams to buy into them. They focus on the vital few systems required to produce results, e.g., customer acquisition and value delivery. Equally important, they resist time-draining / marginal-value distractions that constantly compete for their attention (leaders are not afraid to say no).

Think People – Leadership is about helping others. Customers of course, but also the team members you lead … and the trusted advisors, peers, and associates you collaborate with. Savvy leaders are always thinking about the questions they can ask, the engaging behavior they can demonstrate, and the actions they can follow through on to assist others. For example, leaders frequently ask themselves “who on my team can use a little encouragement, and how can I help them today?” Leaders know that by helping others succeed, they in turn will succeed.

Think Momentum – The opposite of momentum is inertia … which, left unchecked, can be the demise of an otherwise capable team. Therefore, leaders are always thinking about next steps, and how to make continuous, measurable progress toward a goal, while keeping the team energized and actively engaged. They do so by asking others for feedback, celebrating small wins on the way to big ones, and always asking themselves “what more can I do?” and asking others “what can we do?” … to keep our progress on track.

Becoming a better leader is a continuous process of thinking, doing, and learning from your actions. And there may indeed be more ways of leadership thinking than those listed above. However, by adopting these three simple thinking practices, you will be leading your teams, and yourself, to success. Make time for thinking!

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