Posts Tagged ‘mindset’

forgiveness quintessential leader

Of all the things that we humans are called upon to do, it is my opinion that real, genuine, authentic forgiveness is one of the most difficult. Humans, by nature, get a certain perverse enjoyment out of nursing grudges against others, holding on to wrongs done to them, and feeding what they believe is eternal and justifiable anger toward other people.

It doesn’t make any sense logically, objectively, or rationally because, in the end, unforgiveness causes a lot of self-inflicted pain that can sometimes last for the rest of a person’s life.

Because here’s the irony of being unforgiving.

No one suffers but the person who can’t or won’t forgive. The people who wronged the unforgiving go on with their lives, unaware of, perhaps, or, more likely, uncaring about the effect their behaviors. (more…)

The society we live in places a high premium on fantasy, on magic, on fiction, on speculation, on dreaming. It seems the human race is drawn like a magnet to the improbable, to the outrageous, to the impossible.

We, it appears, have an irresistible urge to escape as much and as often as possible from reality.

Want to write a book that will get rave reviews and lots of sales? Write science fiction, fairy tales, or about the “dark side” (witches, vampires, werewolves, etc.). Almost every book publisher rates these topic areas as the best revenue streams for authors.

fantasy mindset unquintessential leadershipWant to have a hit movie or series? Set it in a fictional etherworld (on earth or in space), include magic, fantasy, and a good bit of blood, guts and gore and you’ll be well on your way.

And here’s the thing about fantasy that makes it so appealing. It doesn’t require focused attention, investment in time and effort, thoughtful consideration, and responsive application. Instead, it’s a superficial thing that is a blip on the screen that doesn’t change our lives and allows us to keep on going as we are without missing a blink.

I saw a quote today from an author of very short science fiction books and fairy tales that underscored the difference: ” I found the book to be too description-heavy and too wordy for my taste. Normally I would skim books that are so wordy…” and I thought to myself, “Seriously?” and then I realized this person was speaking a truth that seems to apply to most people.

Reality, therefore, has a very low premium, it seems, among the human race. Things that are factual, knowledgeable, useful, practical, and contain wisdom and truth are disdained and largely ignored.

Reality has depth that requires us to think, to process, to comprehend, to understand, and then to apply. Reality also brings us face-to-face with who we are on the inside and how that needs to change reality quintessential leadership mindsetand improve. It deals with the most important things about life and living, and it can sometimes be a hard pill to swallow.

And we humans, it seems, want to avoid all of that at all costs. It requires investment, time, effort, and then a response. It can be hard work. It can be painful. It can be soul-anguishing.

The mindset that people in leadership positions have determines whether they are quintessential leaders or not. If the mindset is fantasy-oriented, then the person is an unquintessential leader. If the mindset is reality-oriented, the person is a quintessential leader.


Quintessential leaders are not constantly looking for escape, for mindless jaunts into imaginary worlds, with imaginary characters, doing imaginary things.

In fact, quintessential leaders have little patience for fantasy, for improbability, for outrageousness, and for speculation because they know this won’t result in solutions, change, and progress.

In other words, it’s a colossal waste of time in a life that doesn’t have, in the big scheme of things, much of that particular commodity.

Quintessential leaders face life head on and they stay rooted in the perspective and mission of change and progress (change without progress as a complementary perspective and mission is useless and, more often than not, ends with things being even worse than they were before; change for change’s sake is never enough).

Their mindsets, therefore, are reality-oriented in every area of their lives. What’s right? What’s wrong? What’s good? What’s bad? What needs to be done to improve what’s right? What needs to be changed to eliminate what’s wrong? How do we make what’s good better? How do we get rid of what’s bad?

Quintessential leaders are always thinking in terms of the previous questions, no matter what they’re doing, where they are, or who they are with. They are much more observant than those who have fantasy mindsets, and seldom miss anything in their observations.

Even – and most of the time we won’t – if they never say a word, quintessential leaders see, process (consider, evaluate, determine relevance, truth, rightness, goodness, usefulness, wisdom), decide to keep or reject, and if we keep, then apply just about everything that’s important in terms of people and life that crosses our paths.

Fantasy-minded people in leadership positions tend to have almost-nonexistent observation skills, tend to live in the moment only, and have poor and slippery memories. They are, ultimately, then completely untrustworthy.

So, the question that each of us, fellow quintessential leaders must ask ourselves is, “What is my mindset?” 

Am I spending most of my time and energy and effort on things that are fantasy-based, not real, not true, improbable, speculative, outrageous? If the answer is “Yes,” then we have developed a fantasy mindset and are wasting not only our time, but the time of all the teams we lead in our lives. We are not living up to quintessential leadership and need to change. Starting today.

If the answer turns out be that we have a reality mindset, we’re not off the hook. The questions we should immediately ask are how and what can we do to change the degree, the improve the content, and to make progress in developing this mindset further. That also needs to happen today.

How are we doing?



Today’s post will discuss the mindset of unquintessential leadership and how that mindset gets expressed in actions and words. As quintessential leaders, it’s important that we are reminded from time to time of what quintessential leadership is not, so we can examine our own mindsets (attitudes and motivations) and words and actions to ensure that we’re not letting unquissential leadership creep in.

The reality is that there are far more unquintessential leadership examples around us than quintessential leadership examples.

Most of the people in leadership positions today have a mixture of the two, with more of an unquintessial leadership mindset than a quintessential leadership mindset.

This creates confusion and an atmosphere of constant uncertainty because we never know which to expect under any given circumstance. This mixture engenders continual instability and a pervasive lack of trust.

However, there are some people in leadership positions who have purely unquintessential leadership mindsets (with no quintessential leadership in their mindsets at all). We can readily spot them because their words and actions – indeed, the very core of who they are – ooze with the characteristics of the unquintessential leader mindset.

I always suspect mental illness(es) in these cases because, in general, we humans who are sane – more or less – tend to be, regrettably, a mixture of good and bad, but someone who exhibits nothing but unquintessential leadership has nothing good in his or her thinking, actions, and words. It simply cannot be found.

So let’s take a look at the major characteristics of the unquintessential leadership mindset and what each of them look like in action.

It is ALWAYS all about METhe first is pride and arrogance. The unquintessential leadership mindset is primarily narcissistic, so for the person who has this mindset everything is always all about them. What does this look like in action?

Constant self-promotion and exaggeration of importance, position and status in words and actions is one way this pride and arrogance manifests itself. No one is better, brighter, or more right.

This mindset is one of being superior to and more special than everyone else. The world – no, make that the universe – revolves around the unquintessential leader.

Nothing and no one else matters except for him or her and anyone who doesn’t realize that is the object of the unquintessential leader’s derision and condemnation.

Unquintessential leaders are, in short, legends in their own minds.

Another characteristic of the unquintessential leadership mindset is the need to control everything and everybody. What does this look like in practice?

Absolutely no challenge to the authority, authenticity, correctness, and thoughts, ideas, opinions, and edicts – because that’s what unquintessential leaders issue – is tolerated or allowed. Absolute and complete loyalty to the unquintessential leader is demanded and tested routinely. Action to squelch and remove real or perceived challenges on any of these fronts is swift and brutal.

Threats and intimidation (bullying) are another characteristic of the mindset of unquintessential leadership. This characteristic in action is a constant barrage of harassment and haranguing. An atmosphere of fear is created by the continual reminders that those under unquintessential leadership have tenuous positions and one “wrong” word or move will result in their eliminations and expulsions.

Language is the primary weapon in this characteristic, with repetition on a constant basis of what the negative consequences are that the unquissential leader holds over the heads of those cross him or her.

Manipulation is another characteristic of the unquintessential leadership mindset. Manipulation is accomplished by spin doctoring everything to make everything support what the unquintessential leader believes about him or herself.

Its effectiveness depends on a lack of critical thinking, fear, and the everpresent specter of punishment. It can be quite effective with people who either can’t, won’t, and don’t know how to think for themselves.

This is one of the most subtle characteristics, and, therefore, in my opinion, one of the most dangerous.

Another characteristic of the unquintessential leadership is the creation and maintenance of an atmosphere of suspicion and war anywhere the unquintessential leader is able to. What does this look like?

There are constant words and actions that pit people against each other, creating first suspicion, then war among those people. Unquintessential leaders will constantly find targets to attack personally and set up for everyone else to attack.

This tends to be the way unquintessential leaders get rid of people who challenge them, who disagree with them, who call them out when they are being unquintessential leaders.

Because of all the characteristics of the unquintessential leader mindset, the inability to handle the truth (for an unquintessential leader, the only truth that exists is the truth as he or she has constructed it) is universally the one that usually becomes the most obvious early on because anyone who confronts the unquintessential leader is quickly – and usually very publicly and visibly as a warning to everyone else – hunted down, forced out, and completely destroyed, if possible.

People can usually hide the other characteristics for quite some time, but not being able to face or admit the truth is almost impossible to ever hide.

As quintessential leaders, it is imperative that we are constantly examining our mindsets – our motives, our attitudes, our words, our actions, who we are – to ensure that we are not letting these characteristics of the unquintessential leadership mindset to come in and become part of us and how we lead.

This is the battle we all fight constantly, but it is a battle we must never abandon and a battle we must win. For ourselves and for our teams in every area of our lives. 

Yes. It’s that important.

The articles that Quintessential Leader is recommending in this week’s reading are very interrelated. One of the things that quintessential leaders do that makes them stand out from people who just have leadership titles but are not leaders is to think outside the box.

Thinking outside the box means the status quo – “that’s the way we’ve always done things” – is constantly being evaluated, challenged, and changed to better, smarter, more effective, and more efficient ways of growing and succeeding.

Overwhelmingly, the lack of leadership and the stagnation that seems to be epidemic in organizations today is because of the limitations people in leadership positions impose on the organizations. There is very little original thinking, very little innovation, and very little forward motion.

A lot of organizations are stuck in mindsets and methodologies of the past (theirs or others) and they operate from that outdated and unproductive viewpoint, all the while bemoaning the lackluster and tepid, at best, results of their efforts.

The fear of change and what change means to our comfort zones is part of the problem. The other part is that a lot of people in leadership positions are afraid of not being in control, which inviting and encouraging change will inevitably threaten.

But quintessential leaders are not egocentric. We understand that we are not the sole source of value in our organizations and teams and that when we involve – and grow – everyone on the team and in the organization in a meaningful way that uses each person’s gifts and talents to their fullest potentials, everybody wins and our organizations succeed. 

Quintessential leaders will surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are, know more than they know, and who will, in the collective effort of the team, ensure successful outcomes. This is the heart of leadership. And it is why there are so few quintessential leaders in most organizations.

In the article “Leader or Hero? Learning to Delegate,” Gordon Tredgold discusses a key component of quintessential leadership, which is delegation. Heroes insist on doing everything themselves. They are the ultimate examples of needing to be in complete control of everything. Heroes also get overwhelmed, stressed out, develop martyr complexes, and end up either doing many things poorly or, worse, not doing things that should be done at all.

Quintessential leaders are not heroes. They assemble competent teams, identify or develop (recognizing potential is one of the most common thinking-outside-the-box areas missing in recruiting and hiring in most organizations today) the strengths and abilities of those team members and then delegate accordingly.

I’ll give you an example of what this looks like. In one organization I worked for part of my teams’ responsibilities included detailed numbers work and reporting. While I can do that if push comes to shove, it’s not my forte and I don’t enjoy it and I usually end up making mistakes because, although I know it’s necessary, I dislike it so much that I rush through it to get it over with.

One of my team members, on the other hand, was excellent with this kind of work and really enjoyed it. So, guess who got to run with all the reporting and numbers work for the teams…and who also got all the credit?

And because it was appropriate and responsible delegation, we developed a high-trust relationship. I didn’t tell her how to do it – she knew better ways than I did of how it could best be accomplished – only what the final results needed to include. We teamed up and communicated well and often.

She knew she could count on me anytime she needed resources she didn’t have or needed me to pull some weight or run interference so she could get her job done. I knew her work was accurate and high-quality and it was one area I didn’t have to worry about.

I believe one of the reasons that so many people in leadership positions are heroes is because they don’t hire well (or are too insecure to hire someone who is better at doing something than they are). So they have no one to appropriately delegate too.

If you’re a leader who finds him or herself in a “hero” role, look at the team you’ve assembled and see if you’re overlooking talent or potential that you could delegate areas of responsibility to.

If you look at your team and don’t find anyone that you could delegate appropriately and responsibly to, then you’ve done a poor job of assembling your team and fixing that is the immediate priority on your to-do list.

Aad Boot’s “Mindset and Attitude Affect How We Lead Change (And How We Make Think outside the boxChanges in Ourselves) is very insightful about the difference in mindsets and attitudes in quintessential leaders and unquintessential leaders. Change is inevitable. How we, as quintessential leaders, approach, handle, and lead change is critical. As you’re reading this article, think about which of the two mindsets/attitudes that are presented in each of the bullet points describes your attitude and mindset toward change in every area of life. None of us handle change as well as we could, but the key to improving is to fix how we see and respond to change.

In the article, “6 Reasons Leaders Make Bad Decisions,” Glenn Lopis highlights six unquintessential leadership traits that we, as quintessential leaders, must always be on guard against. Our teams depend on us to lead. When we show that something other than leading our teams (which, again, means thinking outside the box all the time) is more important to us than that, then we become unquintessential leaders.

One of Lopis’s reasons for leaders making bad decisions is not seeing the opportunity. This goes back to mindset and reminds me of the twelve spies from Israel that were sent into Canaan to scout out the land. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, saw the opportunity. The other ten saw the problems. You can read the rest of the story for yourself to see why unquintessential leadership prevailing brings disastrous results.

Mike Myatt’s article, “The Most Common Leadership Model – And Why It’s Broken,” reiterates a topic I’ve discussed here before and also which represents not thinking outside the box. I’ve often described the extensive experience I bring to the table for any organization contemplating hiring me is comprised mostly of “soft skills” that are embedded in the competency areas of that same experience. One of the key areas I look for in team members is “soft skills.”

I’ve always said and will continue to say, because I believe it, that I can teach anyone the technical competencies a job requires, but I can’t teach them the “soft skills.” They either have them or they don’t. If they have them, all other things being equal, they’ll be on my team. I’m usually willing to take chances on people who possess “soft skills” and no technical competency because I know the value of “soft skills” and how they can be difficult to find, especially in highly-technical fields.

I’ll let Mike analyze the value of “soft skills” compared to “competency” from here because he gives a credible voice to what I’ve experienced most organizations never take into consideration: “Any organization that over weights the importance of technical competency fails to recognize the considerable, and often-untapped value contained in the whole of the person. It’s the cumulative power of a person’s soft skills, the sum of the parts if you will, that creates real value. It not what a person knows so much as it is how they’re able to use said knowledge to inspire and create brilliance in others that really matters.”

Once again, this is thinking outside the box. That is a vital requirement for us as quintessential leaders. Without it, we will fail our organizations, our teams, and ourselves.

I hope you’ve all had a good week and that your journey toward quintessential leadership has been fruitful and productive!