How to Think Like a Leader

You have been asking: How can one think like a leader? Are leading thoughts so beneficial to leadership skills? How can teenagers lead others effectively? And here you are, reading the right material, ready to launch you to the next level in your Leadership.

Who is a Leader?

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘Leader’? Power, influence, service, responsibility, or confidence? According to Cambridge Dictionary, a leader is a person who is in charge of a group, country, situation, etc.

Gary Wills opined: “a leader mobilizes others toward a goal shared by leaders and followers… Leaders, followers and goals make up the three equally necessary supports for leadership.”

Being is a leader is beyond talent or intelligence. There are mindsets and leading thoughts a leader must have which will be discussed in this post.

What is Leadership?

Mike Vance defined Leadership as ‘the ability to establish standards and manage a creative climate where people are self-motivated toward the mastery of long term constructive goals, in a participatory environment of mutual respect, compatible with personal values.’

Peter F. Drucker also defined Leadership as ‘the lifting of a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.’ [1]

How to Think like a Leader

Here are five ways you can think as a leader:

1. Asking Questions

As a leader, you must learn how to ask questions. You must be able to ask yourself questions and ask others questions too. Questions are revealers, they reveal a lot of things to us. Leaders must ask significant and relevant questions.

Ask yourself questions that will:

  • Challenge your inner self,
  • Give you a mind-shift and also
  • Open your eyes to seeing in the right perspectives.

Asking relevant questions from your team members has its benefits too. Here are the benefits of asking questions from your team members or followers:

  • Asking questions engages others
  • Asking questions can lessen anxiety and stress
  • Asking questions can give a clearer view of an idea or project

2. Putting First Things First

DR. Stephen R. Covey in his book ‘THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE’ implied that Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities. It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you.[2]

You have your priority or priorities which must be treated with value. There is a lot in the world grabbing your attention, they can clutter your thought process and you will just continue moving in the same circle without improvement or efficiency.

To be efficient as a leader, you need to set your priorities. Priorities are what matters most to you; there are things that you need above every other thing, they can be pressing or urgent. Work on them. Do the first things first.

Read: 11 Habits of Highly Successful Teens

You can put the first thing first by observing the following:

  • Have a plan: You must have a personal plan as a leader. Planning makes vision realistic and makes you inclined to achieving your vision.
  • Have a schedule: This will enable you to do what you ought to be doing at a particular time. Make room for your most pressing priorities and important priorities by making a habit of following your schedule.
  • Keep to time: Good leaders make effective use of their time. To put first things first, time management is involved. In time management, you are not just managing time but also managing yourself. Don’t just waste time, make effective use of your time.

3. Acting like a leader

To think like a leader, you act like a leader. A leader is one who is ready to take action and make the right changes for the right result. A leader is people-driven. A leader is mission-driven.

Read: 4 Most Significant Roles of a Leader

Gone are the days when teenagers and youths are referred to as ‘leaders of tomorrow’. The 21st-century teenager knows s/he is capable of making a change in society, school, or any other formidable organization. The 21st-century teenager is one without a ‘thin mind’, thinking through ideas and implementing decisions. The 21st-century teenager knows that through patterning of great leaders, one can make a great leader.

When we act as a leader by proposing new ideas, making contributions outside our area of expertise, or connecting people and resources to a worthwhile goal (to cite just a few examples), people see us behaving as leaders and confirm as much. The social recognition and reputation that develop over time with repeated demonstrations of leadership create conditions for what psychologists call ‘internalizing a leadership identity‘—coming to see oneself as a leader and seizing more and more opportunities to behave accordingly.

As a person’s capacity for leadership grows, so does the likelihood of receiving an endorsement from all corners of the organization by, for example, being given a bigger job. And the cycle continues. [3]

To act like a leader is doing some exceptional things that can keep you been on the track of influence.

Here are seven hacks to acting as a leader:

Hack 1: Be confident
Hack 2: Have integrity
Hack 3: Have a positive attitude
Hack 4: Take responsibility
Hack 5: Value people
Hack 6: Communicate well
Hack 7: Challenge others to become better

4. Networking with People

Leaders think in terms of ‘Network’ not ‘Isolation’. Leaders think in terms of ‘We can’ rather than ‘I can’. Leadership is beautiful in networking; networking with people can make room for integrating purpose, decision, skill, or talent.

You might have been achieving some results in isolation – that is a level of achievement. But with networking, you get to meet people and link people in achieving a common aim. Rome wasn’t built by a single fellow, but by a network of people. The Egyptian Pyramid wasn’t just a creative individual’s idea, but a set of creative individuals coming together.

Benefits of Networking with People:

  • New perspectives of seeing things
  • Improvement in our knowledge-base
  • New strategies are revealed
  • Changes in our orientation
  • Expands our circle of influence

5. Think Win-Win

Thinking win-win implies that you are not in competition with others but actively collaborating with others to achieve a positive result. In thinking win-win you have the interest of others in mind and not also giving up on achieving your pleasant interest too.

When you think win-win, you understand Interdependence. You can relate with the outside world and still able to connect with yourself.

You are not left alone in the Isolation-zone and engrossed with your vision only. Leaders with this mindset know the earth does not only revolve around them but around others too. They seek mutually satisfying benefits.

How to think Win-Win

  • Believe in others
  • Have Integrity
  • Learn to be interdependent
  • Ask questions when in doubt
  • Be open and ready for change

Now you know that to think like a leader, you should Ask questions, Put first things first, Act like a leader, Network with people and Think Win-Win. Don’t also forget that readers are leaders. Reading enhances your knowledge and polishes your ability.


3. Herminia Ibarra, Act Like A Leader, Think Like A Leader (Harvard Business Review and Leading Academic Journals, 2015)

How else should a leader think? Have you ever led before? I’ll like to hear from you in the comments.


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