The Missing Ingredient in Leadership Performance: Mindsets

If you wanted to improve the performance of a leader, how would you diagnose where the performance breakdown is occurring, and how would you treat that breakdown?

Early in my doctoral program, I learned about the Performance Equation, and I have loved its simplicity and practicality. It goes as follows:

Performance = Ability X Motivation X Opportunity

With Ability = Skills and capabilities requisite for performance

Motivation = Energy and ambition necessary for performance

Opportunity = Contextual and situational constraints relevant for performance

This equation suggests (1) there are three components to focus on if we want to diagnose and treat a performance breakdown, and (2) if any of these three components is low or zero, performance is going to be low or zero.   

Until recently, I (and most leadership expects) have felt like this equation encompassed the most important elements related to performance and diagnosing/treating a leadership performance breakdown. In fact, most leadership experts have felt like ability is the primary area where leadership performance breaks down, which has led them to focus on improving leadership skills and behaviors. 

But, after extensive learning and research about a personal attribute that is often underappreciated, I believe there is a missing component in the Performance Equation (which may be a common cause of misdiagnosed performance issues).

This component is mindsets.

Mindsets are our mental fuel filters. Every day we are bombarded by thousands, if not millions, of stimuli. It is our mindsets that filter select information to our brains, which then fuels our:

  1. Thinking (decision making and problem solving)

  2. Learning and development

  3. Behavior and performance

Stated differently, our mindsets are foundational to everything we think about and do.

Thus, I believe that the Performance Equation should really be:

Performance = Positive Mindsets X Ability X Motivation X Opportunity

This suggests that:

  • If we can improve a leader’s mindsets, we can improve their thinking, learning, and behavior (all essential components of high performance)

  • Even if a leader has high ability, high motivation, and high opportunity, if they possess negative mindsets, they are not likely to be performing in an ideal fashion

  • If leaders’ mindsets drive their behaviors, focusing on improving leaders’ abilities (i.e., skills and behaviors) without improving mindsets may be an empty form of leadership development

  • If we want to enhance the performance of a leader, we need to identify and improve their mindsets

Because mindsets are foundational to all we think about and do, whatever you know about mindsets, it probably is not enough. In all honesty, learning about mindsets has completely changed my life for the better. And, I want to share what I have learned with you so that you can improve your life for the better. Thus, in this blog, I want to help you (1) better understand the power of mindsets, (2) identify the mindsets critical to your personal and leadership success, and (3) improve your mindsets for improved personal and leadership success.

In my next post, I will be further discussing why understanding and harnessing mindsets is critical for leaders (formal and informal). If you have yet to subscribe to my blog, do so now so you won't miss out on upcoming posts on success and leader mindsets.