A CEO mindset is not just for the big boss. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting your career or if you’re a freelancer with a staff of zero. In a world based on personal brand and reputation, this type of mindset can help you stand out from your peers and competition in a big way.
No matter what stage you are in your professional life—either as an employee or a business owner—cultivating a CEO mindset can help you meet your personal and professional goals.
Cultivating a CEO mindset is about leadership. Too often, we wait for other people to “manage” when we should start acting like a leader. The real secret is that true leadership has nothing to do with managing and everything to do with being focused on results and inspiring action.
Here are three ways to start creating a CEO mindset now:
1. Learn the difference between leadership and management
You don’t need to be the boss to be a leader. A true leader is someone who has a vision that takes people to new places. Leadership is based on creating strong relationships so you have influence and people respect you.
To apply this principle, look at the actions you take each day. Do you push people, or do you pull them with your ideas? Do you simply take orders from your boss or clients, or do you help drive the direction and get people on board with your vision?
Check in regularly to see if you’re merely managing or if you’re leading. Do you administer or innovate, control or trust, maintain the status quo or develop individuals? Leadership requires that you step up and ask what and why instead of just going along with the flow.
Leadership great John Maxwell said: “Leadership is not a noun. It’s a verb.” When thinking about how you can truly be a leader, understand that leadership takes action. It’s not just throwing out an idea in your monthly meeting, but your consistent daily action and momentum.
2. Drive results instead of focusing on the details
There’s no denying that details do matter, but it’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of what you’re actually striving to accomplish. Leaders look beyond the details to the results.
When cultivating your CEO mindset, go past the details and consider the big picture. If something isn’t working or a detail is overlooked, the real question should be how that can be avoided in the future—not rehashing the nitty gritty of what happened over and over again.
Be a leader in creating systems, no matter how small, that support the right results. Think about the work you do in the context of the organization’s overall goals and mission.
For example, if you’re in charge of the company’s blog, look at how that blog can better connect with your audience and what processes can help achieve that. Ask the right questions and develop better systems to breed long-term success and get noticed.
3. Inspire action
If you think of any great leader, you’ll notice each and every one of them possess the ability to inspire action. It may be with their ideas, a rousing speech or a simple new approach to how to do things, but successful leaders can make people take action for positive change.
This type of leadership does not require a C-Suite title. With the right approach, you can inspire action, too. The key to inspiring action is to share the “why” behind what you’re sharing and to enroll people in the process so they feel personally invested.
Simple-change management models are based on this concept of inspiring action. By enrolling people in your vision, you help give them ownership of the idea. The goal is not to get credit but to create action.
Perhaps your clients need to feel ownership over the process, or you need to find a way that will make your manager feel like they came up with the idea themselves. Just keep in mind that to achieve the desired result, you must make people feel good about their involvement so they will naturally want to deliver their best work.
Learning how to act like a CEO, no matter where you are in your career, has the potential to help you get where you want to go faster. You can even earn an online degree in leadership. Being able to inspire action and think big picture will go a long way to helping you build a reputation as an up-and-comer or industry leader in your field.