What Are You Thinking About?
The Thinker by Auguste Rodin
Have you ever wondered why some people are more successful than others? Is it because they
think bigger? Or could it be that they think BETTER? The purpose of this post is to help you
think better which will result in your ability to be a better leader.
Whether for personal or business reasons, underlying any strategic plan and successful initiative
is a winning mindset that guides leadership thinking. It can be thought of as being composed of
principles or guides.
Most of them have been in existence since ancient times. They are illustrated in the lives and
writings of Alexander The Great, Sun Tzu, Caesar, Machiavelli, Napoleon, Patton, Churchill and
Being involved in this field of work for many years, and having worked with thousands of
individuals, managers and companies throughout the world, I can say with complete confidence
that what follows is the strategic mindset for winning big!
These principles, or what some might call guides, have been reverse
engineered by careful review and reflections arising from my consulting engagements with
leaders in a variety of fields.
Their presentation here is skeletal for convenience sake, and they are in no special sequence as
each is just as important as the next. However, taken as a whole, they offer a useful checklist
and food for thought as to how leaders think.
Whether you are running a family, little league or large corporation, your ability to implement
this mindset will allow you to win big at whatever you do.
How Leaders Think - The Mindset for Winning Big
1. Leaders have a clear sense of desired outcomes before acting. They develop a detailed
action plan capable of delivering outcomes that will add significant value to a state of
2. Leaders scope outwards to capture the larger context. Before acting they see how the
pieces fit together and visualize all outcomes.
3. Leaders are adaptive to realities and flexible in choice of tactics. They recognize that
once action begins the “game board” is fluid offering both new threats and new
4. Where possible, leaders try to achieve multiple objectives through singular actions.
5. Leaders always plan a couple of steps ahead. It is said that Napoleon could conceive of
seven steps ahead, each one with its potential counteractions by opponents.
6. Leaders anticipate their opponent’s actions and mentally rehearse their responses
should those contingencies arise.
7. Leaders have the discipline to remain composed when the unexpected occurs.
8. Leaders try to capitalize on crisis or change, turning them to their advantage.
9. Leaders stay future-focused and take the long view on important decisions.
10. Leaders invent both sequential and parallel actions to accomplish goals.
11. Leaders pick battles that can be won and avoids those that cannot be won. (At least
not at an acceptable cost.)
12. Leaders look to supplement their actions with those of others (allies, partners, joint
13. Leaders are patient, and move swiftly with a good sense of timing.
14. Leaders act decisively and with conviction when the time to act has come.
15. Leaders are able to scrap or alter plans when information indicates actions are not
attaining their intended results.
16. Leaders accept reality as it is, not as they want it to be.
17. Leaders do not signal any punches, unless in the form of a ploy.
18. Leaders know in advance what can be conceded or lost and what is essential to retain,
preserve, and gain.
19. Leaders do not bluff when the stakes are critical.
20. Leaders seek and exploit opponent’s weaknesses, oversights and mistakes.
21. Leaders maintain forward momentum. They focus on moving north toward their goals.
22. Leaders use surprise to their advantage.
23. Leaders use speed as a weapon and create competitive whiplash.
24. Leaders are disciplined and hold resources in reserve should their need arise.
25. Leaders form alliances with opponents of his opponents.
26. Leaders learn their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
27. Leaders are aggressive in pursuing goals and ready to move on to the next.
28. Leaders do not rest on old glories, they keep their teeth and competitive instincts razor
29. Leaders tap diverse points of view in planning. They seek out multiple viewpoints and
considers for strength and validity.
30. Leaders assure that everyone knows their roles and are equipped with the resources to
31. Leaders maintain a state of readiness. They are prepared to strike fast when the
opportunity presents itself.
32. Leaders monitor activities and results in the operating environment. They do not let
the grass grow under their feet when it comes to measurements.
33. Leaders use “what if” speculation to stretch thinking in the direction of opportunities
34. Leaders have a good sense of what may be possible to achieve in the prevailing state of
“politics.” They are masters at the art of what’s possible.
35. Leaders study the logic of the opponent’s tactics with an eye toward determining what
their ultimate end purposes may be.
36. Leaders make use of trial balloons. They engage in feint actions in order to test
37. Leaders prefer taking the offensive. They plan thoroughly and act with boldness and a
strong sense of confidence.
These are some tested aspects of thinking employed by leaders to gain and hold strategic
advantage. They can serve as a checklist when your responsibilities include thinking
Apply these guidelines to your own personal or business strategic plan and I assure you that
you’ll be on your way to a fast start and more important, big wins!