8 Leadership Tips for Developing a Future-Forward Mindset

Oct. 27, 2021

Eller Business Blog

What are the best tips for developing a leadership mindset that fosters continuous improvement and innovation?

To help organizations with innovative practices, we asked business professionals this question for their best insights. From automating mundane tasks to minimizing distractions, there are several ways that may help you build a leadership growth mentality.

Here are eight leadership tips to help cultivate a future-forward mindset:

  • Center Yourself, Practice and Routine

  • Minimize Distractions

  • Identify Areas of Opportunity Early

  • Ensure Everyone Is on the Same Page

  • Automate Mundane Tasks

  • Exercise Your Desire to Learn

  • Develop a Culture That Champions New Ideas

  • Check and Challenge Yourself

Center Yourself, Practice and Create Routines

My code is CPR. 

Focus, or “C,” center yourself by concentrating on the 80/20 rule. Prioritize while allowing movement of priorities as the environment shifts, and you build a mindset of flexibility, success and focus. Put priorities front and center and constantly evaluate them, giving yourself permission to change. 

“P” stands for patience and practice. The art of mindset is practice. Don’t let a negative or unpleasant outcome, interaction or action derail your mindset. Have patience with yourself as you master this and practice it daily, by the minute.

“R” stands for routines as mindset is a habit. Creating routines that set you up for success will lead you to a path of frequent success. Little successes become big successes, which become monumental, life-altering successes.

Oriana Lehman Wood ’96 BSBA (Entrepreneurship, Marketing), Real Estate and Investment Broker at Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty

Minimize Distractions

People need space to innovate and improve. In order to free up space, people need to minimize distractions. For me personally, I've sought to minimize distractions by doing things like limiting cell phone use to a maximum of one hour per day, wearing the same type of black shirt every day and checking email only twice per day. 

Those simple things may sound silly to even think about, but a leader needs to stay disciplined in their approach to each day in order to achieve objectives. By eliminating some of my simple daily decisions, I can achieve the space needed to innovate and improve.

Brett Farmiloe ’06 BSBA (Accounting), CEO and Founder at Markitors

Identify Areas of Opportunity Early

The key to successful innovation lies in the ability to identify areas of opportunity early enough so as to solve issues before they become too big or complex to handle. This requires an open mind and willingness to learn from mistakes. Ideas essential to developing a continuous improvement culture steeped in innovation include constantly seeking ways to iterate business processes and build up your team's professional development.

Henry Babichenko, DD and Founder at Eurodenture

Ensure Everyone is on the Same Page

Part of showcasing an authentic leadership mindset is ensuring that each member of your team is working toward the same goals in the company. Once everyone is on the same page and knows what the organization is striving for or what problems need to be resolved, innovation from the collective follows. Encourage innovation further by creating business systems that align with company goals, including ways for employees at every level to take part in the innovation process.

Mike Orchard, President at College Athlete Advantage

Automate Mundane Tasks

In the world of technology, improvement and innovation is at the heart of everything we do, so why not lead with that in mind? Our company works every day to foster an environment of continuous improvement and innovation in the way we work and think about our low-code automation platform. 

Using our intelligent process automation, we are able to take out the guesswork with a new business environment where humans and machines can work together. This frees up time from mundane tasks to focus on creating more opportunities to think big, change, create and ultimately innovate.

Spiros Skolarikis, Founder and CEO at Comidor

Exercise Your Desire to Learn

There is a current saying: “don't believe everything you think.” Hubris is an enemy or a good leadership mindset, and resilience and desire to learn help against hubris. Willingness to learn reminds you that no matter how much expertise we think we have, we are always students. We need to have the humility and the desire to learn from others and to continue learning from our customers, our peers and our subordinates.

Carlos Alsua, Professor of Practice, International Management and Global Entrepreneurship at Eller College of Management

Develop a Culture that Champions New Ideas

To foster a leadership mindset, you need to empower people to make decisions and develop a culture that champions new ideas. Encouraging people to think of ways to test new ideas before dismissing them, to focus on simplicity and what value is being delivered to the customer is critical. 

Making sure that the economy of ideas isn't heavily weighted toward the top of the hierarchical ladder is important, too — great ideas can come from anywhere at any time. When you are hitting these notes as an organization you can really develop a robust ecosystem of ideas that help to motivate and empower teams.

Kevin Kitchen, ’22 MBA (Marketing and Entrepreneurship), Director of Marketing Operations at Brandetize

Check and Challenge Yourselves

A leadership mindset can be defined in many ways, especially one fostering continuous improvement and innovation. In today's world, leaders are facing many obstacles and an ever-changing organizational landscape. In order to keep up, leaders need to check and challenge themselves, but also the folks they are leading in positive ways. 

Checking yourself means becoming self-aware enough to know when to step into a situation and when to step out. Challenging yourself means setting goals, seeking development and continually asking the "why" behind what you are doing. 

When enacting these two facets for others as a leader, checking is ensuring your people have the skills and support to be successful, while challenging is asking them powerful questions to spark improvement and innovation.

Timothy Kirk, ’23 MBA (Management and Organizations), Senior Learning Partner at Indeed.com

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