Five Dysfunctional Mindsets that Future-Ready Leaders Avoid

All mindsets have an upside and a downside. My research has identified five mindsets that explain how we approach future success and future failure. This article is about how to avoid failure.

The five Future Focus mindsets each have a “voice” and communicate a great deal about our assumptions and expectations. They show up in the language that we use and the actions that we take.

In order to maximize your future potential and performance, you have to be able to spot when your mindsets are working for you or against you. And you have to have a mindset system for ridding yourself of dysfunctional mindsets.

Identifying these five dysfunctional mindsets is one of the essentials of leading mindset change. Avoiding these “Shadow Voices” will help you and your team achieve future success.

  1. “Nobody has a Crystal Ball.” This is the shadow voice of your inner Historian. Leaders who say things like this assume that the future is uncertain and there is nothing that they can do to shape it. Instead of listening to this dysfunctional Historian, ask yourself what you can learn from the past in order to shape the future?
  2. “Let’s wait and see what happens.” This is the shadow voice of your inner Observer. Leaders who say things like this want to avoid risk. They want greater certainty. Instead of taking this dysfunctional advice, listen to the active Observers on your team who say things like, “We have some early data that shows an emerging trend.”
  3. “Our customers aren’t asking for this.” This is the shadow voice of a dysfunctional Opportunist. Leaders who say things like this would rather protect what they have rather than create what “could be.” Look for Opportunists who want to catch the next big wave early, rather than be left in its wake.
  4. “We have to work all the bugs out before we launch.” This is the shadow voice of a paranoid Innovator. Leaders with this mindset let perfect code get in the way of launching and learning from a minimum viable product. Seek out Innovators who are agile, learn fast and move forward.
  5. “I’m sorry you’re too short-sighted to see where we need to go.” This is the shadow voice of a dysfunctional Futurist. Leaders with this mindset don’t have the patience to bring others along on the journey. Help frustrated Futurists by “catching” their vision, make it accessible and visible to less future-focused team members.

Avoiding these five dysfunctional sides of the Future Focus Mindsets will help you and your team maximize future success. Identifying mindsets is just one of the 7 Essentials of Leading Mindset Change.

​Learn more about leading mindset change through my Future Focus QuickStart course.

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