Re-train your leadership brain: the five paradoxical mindsets of a future-fit leader

Striving to better yourself

What is a mindset?

A mindset is a collection of beliefs, attitudes and values that filter the way we look at the world. Mindsets and behaviours go hand-in-hand; someone’s mindset influences their behaviour and in return, behaviour also influences mindset.

As showcased in our latest white paper, part of what helps award-winning leaders drive performance in a modern age is the ability to hold five conflicting mindsets. These mindsets enable senior leaders to effectively navigate the tough, ambiguous decisions and complex situations they’ll inevitably face.


of C-suite leaders agreed that senior leaders in their organisation will need
to adopt a different set of mindsets in the future.

15 years

the average lifespan of a Fortune 500 company today.

So what is a paradoxical mindset?

A paradox refers to two things that are both contradictory, yet at the same time integrated. A paradoxical mindset is therefore an individual’s ability to hold seemingly opposing attitudes and motivations, moving effortlessly between them as circumstances demand.

Politically Virtuous

Mindset 1: I always try to do the right thing AND To enhance performance, I’m savvy in the circumstances

Politically virtuous leaders believe that it is important to act in a way that aligns with their values.

They feel passionate about doing the right thing, but also acknowledge that decisions cannot be independent of the context in which they are taken.

Although leaders are encouraged to ‘always do the right thing’ and lead with strong moral values, doing ‘the right thing’ isn’t always so straightforward. This can be a matter of pragmatically weighing up perspectives and priorities. Politically virtuous leaders lead with their values but are not trapped by circumstance.

Confidently Humble

Mindset 2: I inspire others to have confidence in me and my ability AND I’m aware I can’t achieve ambitious goals alone and honest about my limitations

Confidently humble leaders know that, in order to achieve results, they must to inspire other to have confidence in their beliefs, vision and decisions.

Conversely, they also recognise that they alone cannot achieve outstanding results. They are confident enough in their own abilities that they feel comfortable others for help.


of UK employees say their leader behaves ethically.

Ruthlessly Caring

Mindset 3: I make tough decisions to achieve performance AND I remain compassionate no matter what

Ruthlessly caring leaders recognise that high performance requires decisions that have a human impact, but also appreciate that success doesn’t need to come at a cost to people.

For this mindset, compassion is much more than ‘being nice’. These leaders are proactive in engaging in challenging conversations, but the way these conversations are delivered is in a caring manner.

Ambitiously Appreciative

Mindset 4: I’m relentless and determined, setting demanding objectives AND I celebrate performance as well as attainment, keeping perspective on the things that matter in life

Ambitiously appreciative leaders believe that high achievement requires relentless determination, but at the same time recognise the importance of being sustainable.

All leaders have a goal or ambition they hope to reach but having an appreciation of what it will take to get to that goal and an appreciation of the past is essential. They understand what it takes to make sustainable impact.

Responsibly Daring

Mindset 5: I believe everything is worth trying and anything is possible AND I’m accountable for what we achieve and how we push the limits

Responsibly daring leaders are sensible when pursuing beliefs or purpose whilst simultaneously believing everything is worth trying and that anything is possible.

They are audacious, see opportunity in challenge and feel responsible for making a difference. They see the positives, focus on the future, drive innovation and take responsibility for their brave actions

Ruthlessly caring leaders appreciate that success doesn’t need to come at a high cost to their people.

The five leadership mindsets for future success

You can read the five mindsets white paper here.


Can you think of anyone who embodies these mindsets?