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  • Johannes Mutzke

The “Counter-Mindsets” of Powerful Leaders


One of my favorite descriptions of leadership is – “the ability to take a group somewhere they would never go on their own” (i.e. if the group can get there on their own…they don’t need you!). If you accept this description, one of the underlying implications is that leaders must be capable of creating movement in the opposite direction of the prevailing current.

While it’s much more common to think of this in terms of exceptional skills & capabilities (ex:communication, organization, persuasiveness, etc.), I’d like to focus on the less discussed, but arguably more important aspect of specific “counter-mindsets” leaders must master to be truly powerful.

Consider the following list of examples:

-HOPE in the face of DESPAIR – “Yes we can…” vs “All hope is lost…”

-VISION in the face of STATUS QUO – “A path forward…” vs “Another day…trying the same old thing…”

-SERVICE in the face of STATUS – “I serve people & a greater cause…” vs “I’m the boss…look at me…”

-CLARITY in the face of AMBIGUITY – “I don’t have all the answers, but here’s the next step we have to take…” vs “Everything keeps changing – I’m paralyzed"

-ENERGY/DRIVE in the face of COMPLACENCY – “Let’s move…create momentum…” vs “Let’s wait & see what happens…”

-SIMPLICITY in the face of COMPLEXITY – “Here are basics that really count…” vs “We need to study all the options exhaustively…”

-SECURITY in the face of VULNERABILITY – “Be confident, because it’s the right thing…” vs “I’m afraid of the consequences…”

-POSITIVITY in the face of NEGATIVITY – “There’s light at the end of the tunnel…” vs “The light at the end of the tunnel is actually a train coming toward us…”

-STABILITY in the face of CHAOS – “Tactics may change, but these principles don’t…” vs “Flavor of the day…I’m just reacting”

As you consider the list above, recognize that it’s not about leaders not experiencing the prevailing mindset…or even recognizing its reality. In fact they do…and many struggle tremendously with it. However, they’ve found a way to actively master it for themselves, and most importantly, exude/project the counter-mindset in a convincing way to their followers…and thus turn the tide and lead them to success.

So…how are you doing on mastering the “counter-mindsets”? How do you actively & daily master these mindset-paradoxes? Most importantly, do you see the impact of your actions on your team? If not, take a minute to pick some new actions to test today!

photo credit: Brian Child, Flickr


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