Every leader is unique and takes a different approach to leading based on their background and perspective. Everything from how they were raised to where they grew up to who they surround themselves with influences their leadership style. Who are you as a leader? What makes you that way? And how does that influence the type of leader you can become?
As part of the research for my new book, The Future Leader, I interviewed more than 140 CEOs around the world. Each person I talked with was an accomplished leader, but they were each very different in their personalities and approaches to leadership. Not only that, but they all defined leadership in their own way.
From all of these conversations, I developed the Golden Triangle of Leadership. These are the three things that define who you are as a leader and shape your leadership abilities: your beliefs, your thoughts, and your actions. Each of these principles is connected and works together to create a leader. Your beliefs will shape your thoughts and your thoughts will dictate the actions that you as a leader take.
Your beliefs are things you accept as true. For leaders, your beliefs act as a guiding light and become your philosophy on business and life. Think of these as your North Star.
As a leader ask yourself what are some of the core things you believe in? Write them down and be honest with yourself about them.
Thoughts are the ongoing things you think about as a result of your beliefs. For example, if you believe that people are more important than profits, your thoughts will center around how to develop and value your employees instead of simply increasing revenue.
Do a thought audit at the end of each day and see if any patterns emerge around how you think. Is your day comprised of thinking of ways to generate more revenue for the business? Maybe you’re constantly thinking about your team and what you can do to help them? You can even do this a few times throughout the day to see where your head is at.
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Your actions are what you do. They are influenced by your thoughts and beliefs and a way to put those ideas into something tangible. If your thoughts are focused on developing your employees, your actions will likely include things like focusing on employee experience and taking the time to listen to employees and value their feedback.
Pay attention to the decisions and actions you take. Do you notice patterns? What programs are you investing in? Where are you cutting dollars? What are you championing at your company? How do you talk to and treat those around you?
To be an effective and dare I say, great leader, your beliefs, thoughts, and actions must all align and be positive. Many leaders aren’t even sure of what their beliefs are, they simply sway like branches in the wind. You should know what your beliefs are, you should see them manifested in the thoughts you have, and you should see them come to life in the actions that you take.
Understanding these things does require a bit of introspection and self-awareness which is one of the most crucial leadership skills you need to master.
If your triangle doesn’t align, or you find your actions don’t match your beliefs or thoughts, it’s likely a sign that you aren’t being true to yourself, you are compromising, trying to take shortcuts, bowing to external pressures, or perhaps you have just lost your way as a leader. Use this framework as a regular check-in to make sure you that you stay the course.
I go deeper into the Golden Triangle of Leadership and the mindsets required of future leaders in my book, The Future Leader.
If you enjoyed the article and want more content like this here’s what you can do:
- Subscribe to The Future of Work Podcast where I interview business leaders around the world each week.
- Grab a copy of The Future Leader which has been endorsed by the CEOs of MasterCard, Best Buy, Oracle, Audi, Unilever, Domino’s Pizza, Ritz Carlton, Kaiser, and Marshall Goldsmith. It explores the most essential skills and mindsets for future leaders.
- If you are or want to be an entrepreneur then my wife and I just launched a brand new podcast on how to Be Your Own Boss, called the BYOB Podcast where we share what we did and how we did it. You can subscribe to that here.