The Mindset of a VIP Leader

leadership mindset Sep 28, 2023

Are You a Rabbit or a Tortoise?

There are a lot of leadership styles out there, but the two that we are very familiar with are the Rabbit and the Tortoise. The Rabbit is typically chaotic, overwhelmed and running around. They are typically trying to do too many things at once, because, on some level, they feel they need to have a hand in every part of the organisation. They neglect to delegate, which means they don’t really know who’s in charge of the “troops”, and when asked, they are always busy.

The Tortoise on the other hand, has a methodical approach, considers the team, and understands their strengths – they are a VIP Leader. They are more inclusive and all about cheering on and bringing the team on the journey. The Tortoise has discovered that including others makes them stronger, not weaker, and they build and grow strong executive teams, seeing the potential that each team member brings to the table. Successful Tortoises are always happy to share their ideas on how they run their organisation, because their mantra is, “If I show you what we have done, and you can do it too, then that benefits everyone”.

Many of today’s leaders understand the importance of team building and sharing their vision with the executive team to maximise buy-in.

Playing Above the Line

The behaviour of every leader is always a choice. Those who take responsibility and are accountable for their own decisions, right or wrong, and are willing to make the choices are at the top, thriving as Intentional Leaders. While those who are into denial, blaming or justification tend to struggle in a leadership role, procrastinate and remain unfulfilled. Being decisive is also important. As Yoda once said, “There is no try; there is do or do not”. Stop trying and start doing! Leaders make mistakes. Admit them and recover quickly.

In many organisations these behaviours are referred to as being “above the line” or “below the line”. An easy acronym for remembering the key leadership behaviours is ROAD – Responsibility, Ownership, Accountability and Decisiveness. Below the line are the behaviours that are not becoming of a leader, or BED – Blame, Excuses and Denial. Those who fall “below the line” deny there are any problems; they make excuses and blame others while avoiding making any decisions themselves. Getting your team to take accountability, ownership and responsibility is playing “above the line”.

In stressful situations and when a leader’s energy level is low, some leaders tend to fall back below the line. That’s poor leadership. You need to find the right tools and resources that will enable you to stay in a high-energy state and remain above the line. You need to lead by example and remind other team members to choose “above the line” behaviours in those stressful times.

Know Your Values

Identifying and understanding your values is key to being a successful leader. If you’re not being true to your values, the underlying beliefs, and principles that you carry around with you every single day, then you’ll always be searching for something else and trying to be someone you’re not. There are five personal values that are key for Intentional Leaders: 

  1. Teamwork

  2. Honesty

  3. Accountability

  4. Trustworthiness

  5. Ambition

These will likely differ to those of your team, so it is equally important to identify and understand the core values of those around you. Teams that have similar values feel empowered to strive together towards common goals, while teams without a single value in common will often result in anarchy. You may be able to ease the tension in the interim, but it is very hard to change a team member’s personal values systems and ultimately someone will need to go. It’s not a question of them being right or wrong, but of being congruent with the organisation. Some people are just never going to be the “right fit” and that’s okay.

See the Potential Within

Developing leaders is about promoting ability, not tenure. It is looking for that person in your organisation who has a glint in their eye, is fully engaged and keen to soak up learning like a sponge. It is about developing these potential leaders by giving them a spot on your team and the opportunity to grow into bigger and better roles. The young leaders of today want to be challenged with opportunities for growth within the venue and industry.

The Intentional Leaders will tell their managers, “I will give you as much opportunity to learn as you want. You just soak it up, but I also realise that you are not going to be here forever, because staying in one place isn’t going to make you a great leader. I am willing to put the time and effort into developing you, then help you move on to another venue to gain further experience. Hopefully, you will come back one day, more seasoned and knowledgeable than before”. It is that sense of sharing across the industry that differentiates a visionary leader from a short-sighted one. Rather than worrying about investing their time only to have the manager leave in a couple of years, Intentional Leaders aim to build their managers up and provide stepping stones along the career path.