Lead with an Enterprise Mindset

Speaking to a group of Fortune 500 managers, I was asked to share keys to leading with an enterprise mindset.  In my experience there are three keys to leading with an enterprise mindset – 1) adopt an infinite mindset; 2) consider multiple perspectives or lenses; and 3) become a solutions designer.

Focus on the Environment

Successful senior leaders know that more than any other factor, it is the environment the determines the success of the organization.  The goal is to create an environment that produces the desired culture and results.  It is no longer about whether you can accomplish a goal.  Instead, have you created the environment that allows others to reach their potential?  It does not matter that you can be innovative.  Can you create a culture of innovation?

I have observed three keys to creating a positive, enterprise-focused culture and mindset.

  1. Adopt an Infinite Mindset.

Effective enterprise-minded leaders build resilient environments that adopt an infinite mindset.

In his book The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek notes that the best leaders prepare themselves and others to play an infinite game.  In finite games there are known players, fixed rules, agreed-upon objectives, winners and losers and the game has a beginning, middle, and end.  Most sports fall into this category.  Business and careers are more complex, however, and do not fit this model.  They are infinite games where players can change, rules change, and the goal is to stay in the game as long as possible.

Sinek is the latest to suggest we need to develop this mindset but thought leaders have offered solutions for excelling in uncertain, disruptive, and unpredictable environments for years.  Charles Darwin is famous for noting that it is not the strongest or most intelligent of the species that survives, but the one that is the most adaptable to change.  Carol Dweck encourages people to adopt a growth mindset that allows them to tackle complex problems, chart new courses, and work collaboratively on critical issues.

  1. Consider Multiple Perspectives / Lenses.

Effective enterprise-minded leaders create a culture where people trust each other, cooperate effectively, and continuously look to innovate.

Building teams with diverse perspectives, which consider multiple lenses before making decisions, is the key to fostering trust.  Incorporate four different lenses:

  • Vision-Centered Lens – people who create compelling visions and focus on how to guide the organization into the future.
  • Customer-Centered Lens – people who design great products and services and focus on delivering value to customers in the present.
  • Organization-Centered Lens – people who build great processes and systems and focus on what has worked in the past.
  • People-Centered Lens – people who recognize and develop great people and focus on what the company can do today to prepare colleagues for the future.

Solutions that incorporate all the lenses are more likely to be sustainable in the long-run, address customer needs, and deliver profit.

  1. Become a Solutions Designer.

Effective enterprise-minded leaders create multiple solutions first, then match the most promising with the organizational culture.

In his book 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School Matthew Frederick says a good designer is not afraid to throw away a good idea.  Just because you have a great idea does not mean it fits with the organization’s mission, values, and/or goals.

Enterprise-minded leaders create multiple solutions that are socialized among several people to gain buy-in and support.  Once a solution is agreed upon, the leader’s role evolves to one of managing the adoption process.  This requires the twin skills of highlighting the attributes of the solution in business terms and telling powerful stories to make the solution memorable. 

Bottom Line

The higher you rise within an organization, the more important it is to lead with an enterprise mindset.  Thinking of your role as part of an infinite game, incorporating diverse perspectives, and designing multiple solutions are three keys to success.

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