Blow Out The Old Leadership Mindset

Last week I was invited to visit Kate McCallum, a Producer and the Vice President of Creative at Vortex Immersion Media, the home of The Vortex Dome LA. This geodesic digital fulldome theater is one of the world’s first dedicated fulldome theaters for the arts and entertainment, and the only stand-alone dome theater in LA. It’s located in the heart of downtown at Los Angeles Center Studios. To demonstrate the power of the Vortex Dome, Kate put on a demonstration show for me and my visiting–partner. And what a show it was! When I walked out, I felt altered in some way. I had connected to something deep within, something primal, as the magic of technology, science, and art took me on a journey. 

As I drove home after the Dome experience, I started thinking about the article on Leadership Mindset that I had committed to write for the e.MILE People Development Magazine. I thought to myself “What a great tool the Dome’s immersion experience is to blow out our old and outdated mindset, be it our mindset around our self-leadership, or the leadership of our team(s) or organization!” Witnessing the effects of the 360° immersive environment and interactive technologies — as companies such as Nike, Nokia, and Xbox have done to create brand activation — can definitely be a portal for leadership transformation.

Why is focusing on our leadership mindset so important? And what is this currently much-talked-about “mindset” anyway? Well, some say that our mindset is the key to success. The dictionary states that mindset is a set of beliefs or a way of thinking that determines one’s behavior, outlook, and mental attitude. I want to add that our beliefs and actions come from our imprinting from our families, culture, and society. It is the conformity we have taken on to fit into the program.

As we speed into the 21st century like lightning, it might be worth examining if our leadership mindset is current and answering the needs of the times that call for constant adaptability to change, as well as an ever-increasing need for creativity and innovation to solve the problems we humans have created. My earlier article, “The HOW of Guiding Change Successfully”, offers some practical and helpful tips on the subject of change.

As we adapt to change, we will no doubt have to look at whether we are holding on to a leadership mindset from the last century that is limited, outdated, and possibly dysfunctional for the modern environment. Could it be time for an upgrade? We upgrade our cars, phones, and computers regularly, don’t we? Why wouldn’t we need to do the same for our leadership mindset? In my opinion, we do. A few progressive leaders do this consciously and free-willingly; while others wait until they get into a stuck place they can’t get out of. Only then do they start searching for a new way that always calls for a different mindset.

Here are some of the attributes that were valued in the old, traditional mindset, often referred to as fixed mindset, and, in comparison, what these new times are calling for in the 21st century, the growth mindset. The comfort zone, or status quo, is no longer viable as a modern business stance.

20th Century Leadership Mindset

21st Century Leadership Mindset

  • Me-Space
  • Competition – Winner takes All
  •  Mind – IQ
  • Logical, Rational
  • Do, Achieve
  • Skills, Competency
  • Structure, Strategy
  • Fear, Ego, Power-Driven
  • Being a Robot, Machine Organization
  • Silos, Isolation
  • We-Space
  • Collaboration – Shared Win
  • Heart, Mind, Gut, Spirit, EQ, SQ
  • Intuitive, Wise, Knowing,
  • Be, Feel, Perceive, Listen, Sense
  • Being-ness, Presence, Role Model
  • Process, Higher Purpose, Culture
  • Love, Care, Kindness, Love-Driven
  • Being Human, Living Organization
  • Systems, Communities, Networks

Don’t take me wrong. We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. We obviously continue to use the intellect, structure, strategy, action, and drive. The difference is that we now integrate these more externally focused skills with the so-called “softer” skills, which are anything but. I sometimes call this the WE-Leadership where the inner and the outer, the driving-forward force and the more relaxed yielding force — the masculine and the feminine — are moving together in a harmonious flow, like dancing the tango. This is about wholeness being valued as an indispensable core competency in the leadership mindset of the 21st century. It is about the interconnectedness and interplay of all the parts that make us human.

If you are curious to know what you can do to upgrade your leadership mindset, here are some of my HOW-TO suggestions to start the practice. And remember — the practice is a process.

  1. Start where you are. Make an assessment of what is working and where your challenges lie. Make a commitment to yourself to let go of the dinosaur mindset that may be holding you back, and replace it with an updated version. Understand that we constantly have to update our mindset and be flexible and adaptable to a new way of thinking and being. I surely had to go through the process of learning to BEmyself.
  1. Cultivate self-awareness. Susan Taylor at Generon International recently published a great article about generative strategy based on self-awareness called “Strategy Success and Self-Awareness.” Self-awareness is a powerful tool to create tangible results.
  1. “Know Thyself.” The value of this ancient philosophy is timeless. We need to understand ourselves first, before we can understand other people. Add to that what Simon Sinek says, “If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.” Once you understand that your business is all about your people and the people you serve, your mindset will shift.
  1. Search for your higher purpose. Once you know your higher purpose, it cuts through a lot of the old beliefs, dissatisfaction, and limitations. Your higher purpose will give you focus and energy to make a difference in the world through genuine collaboration and service for the greater good.
  1. Live your values. Discard long-held values that are not coming from who you truly are but from what you have taken on from your surroundings. Once you have updated your values, make sure to walk your talk. It is not enough to commit to high ideals, theories, and concepts. What counts is how you embody your values through your every-day Conscious Leadership.
  1. Foster the interconnectedness. We are all connected all the time, whether we realize it or not. A great example of how the systems, communities, and networks theories are being put into practice by a modern Conscious Leader is the Downtown Las Vegas Project. It is Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, and his team who are making an attempt to reshape the future of a major city by the interplay of business and community-building in which all the stakeholders win. Tony’s mindset is definitely avant-garde and in line with the 21st.-century Conscious Leadership In Action philosophy.

I wonder if Tony Hsieh’s brilliant and innovative leadership mindset might have anything to do with an experience in a Dome such as The Vortex Dome LA that I visited? If you need to update your own leadership mindset and the mindset of your C-suite, you might want to try out the Dome experience and see if it might blow out some cobwebs of the old beliefs and limited mindsets. It just might be worth the try.

The article was first published in the People Development Network Magazine

Image: Courtesy of Vortex Immersion Media and The Vortex Dome