Preparing for the Leadership Minimalism Mindset
Time does funny things. One of them is the collection of stuff. We have our messy drawer at home, but our messiness extends in many places. As individuals, we collect things. We pick-up something from a place we experience. When we return home, we put it somewhere. Over time, we have a lot of stuff, and most of it just collects dus
t and takes up space.
No different to what happens to our leadership ways. As leaders, something works one time, and we latch onto it. We notice something from a partner or customer visit, and we bring it back to our workplace. Some may drive lasting change. Other times, we just keep doing one thing while the rest of the leadership stuff clutters what is most important.
Our leadership gets messy. More explicitly, our leadership gets messed up.Tweet
Our leadership gets messy. More explicitly, our leadership gets messed up.
A new leadership mindset is needed. Leadership minimalism clears the clutter and renews clarity. We need a leadership refresh to activate our organizational culture and achieve positive results. A shift begins now, and leadership minimalism is an optimal way to create a better path for
Leadership Minimalism Defined
A minimalist movement is taking greater hold today. As I try to clear the clutter in my life, clarity is gained. Clearing the clutter is tough, and it is time-consuming to get to a point of living simply. Just this week, I delivered seven boxes of books and miscellaneous items to the Salvation Army. Doing this felt good, a load lifted. Much more needs to be done; my work continues to de-clutter.
A definition of minimalism is:
“…a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”
We may need a definition of leadership minimalism, too. My definition of leadership minimalism is:
“A practice that helps leaders focus on what adds the most value to the people within their community of influence. By acting and speaking with clarity on what matters most, leaders create space for others to contribute creatively and productively to the health and growth of the organization.”
Minimalist leaders create space for individuals to grow and, with this progress, greater contributions are made to the purpose of the work to be done in support of the organization’s mission. Creating space means clearing several things including:
- Removing the barriers that get in people’s way to do the work of the team and organization
- Eliminating political clutter that prevents people from using their talents fully
- Eradicating conflicting messages about why the work to be done is vital along with the timeframe to achieve the purpose and goals
In many ways, a scarce environment brings out the best in the people doing the work. Essential resources need to be available, but we cannot confuse the work culture with unnecessary clutter.
When the leadership minimalism definition is enlivened with clarity, much is achieved. Equally important, an activating quality is evident within the organizational culture.
Activating Verbs of Leadership Minimalism
To embrace a leadership minimalist way, certain principles center us. The principle must be simple, and they must be active. Otherwise, leadership minimalism ends up being cluttered, just like our messy drawer. Acting with certain principles is paramount.
Highlighted are four verbs to activate your leadership minimalism practices.
Minimalist leaders know what they believe in. Their leadership philosophy is exhibited in their actions, and their core beliefs shine in most interactions. More than knowing what they believe in, minimalist leaders believe in the talents and capabilities of others. It isn’t a blind trust. It is an active trust – full-on authority verified through respectful accountability. While believing is a step above respect and trust, both are embedded deeply.
Believing also is a heart activity. Tapping into your heart brings passion from within yourself and others.
Minimalist leaders think. To think effectively, they evaluate information, absorbing in data that matters and converting it into actionable next steps. Measuring is not enough. Minimalist leaders evaluate the metrics and the outcomes. Minimalist leaders use the power of observation, too. The mindset is one of learning, adapting, growing, and creating well.
Evaluating is a mind activity. Thinking connects data and information to solving problems.
Minimalist leaders mend. They mend themselves by unplugging and refreshing their perspective. Minimalist leaders repair relationships that may get damaged or off-track. Mending isn’t being weak. Mending is exhibiting strength of character in knowing when to step away and when to step in.
Minimalist leaders improve. Improving is more than learning. While learning is soaking in new information, improving takes it to the next step by doing something with what is learned. Value is created by improving why, what, how, and when we act. Improving is a holistic endeavor with minimalist leaders.
Key Verb Points of Leadership Minimalism
Two key points about the verbs to activate leadership minimalism:
- Evaluating and believing are a powerful combination when a leader’s heart and mind align in pursuit of a mission and solution.
- Mending and improving are a powerful combination when a leader resolves, renews, and advances self-awareness, relationships, and positive change.
The Minimalist Leader Challenge
The scaling point for a minimalist leader is when these verbs and principles are instilled and congratulated in their team members. Being a solo minimalist leader impacts one and a few. Being a minimalist leader that brings out the best minimalist principles and actions with their team members impacts one and many. A streamlined minimalist snowball effect happens. Clarity, momentum, and impact are aligned.
The challenge for a minimalist leader is to:
- Clear the clutter
- Keep removing the creeping clutter
- Lead simply to ignite and empower
Are you ready to start a leadership minimalism movement?
Join the Conversation
Leadership Minimalism: A New Mindset to Clear Clutter
Good post, and timely, Jon.
Now that Summer quarter is winding down and I’m preparing for phase 2 in education, I’m also needed to declutter from the past decade after my husband died to prepare for a possible move next year. I’m wanting to get much of that done before the 1st nursing quarter starts in spring.
In some ways, looking forward to it! Much of what we have at this point is not what we need or use. Even in clothing, I can give the majority of it away to the Good Will or Salvation Army to hopefully be put to good use to others that need it.
In terms of intangible aspects of our lives and leadership, values really are at the heart in setting the course of our lives. What we value most, even unconsciously, determines many of our daily choices. Lack of vision, even temporarily, can also interfere by adding to the clutter, unless we can learn to treat those temporary reasons with attention to declutter while remaining open to new direction.
Thanks for sharing and good luck as you continue your journey!
Thank you, Samantha. It is easy to get caught up in our clutter. Time has a funny way of doing that to us and, all of a sudden, we feel off-track and overwhelmed. To keep our clarity and moving forward in productive ways, minimalism clears our path. Best wishes to you as you continue with your education and renewed path! Jon
You nailed it Jon.
As I read this article I am enjoying a few days of vacation in Palm Springs. I’m sitting on the balcony of our villa overlooking the golf course and literally just minutes before reading your article I was reflecting on ways I need to improve in my leadership. This is one of the ways.
My company recently went through a process of redefining our corporate values and one that made the list is “Focus and Clarity.” Over the years our company has become that messy junk drawer and it has slowed our growth and minimized our impact. I need to apply that same value to my leadership practices so that my energy is directed in the areas that will produce the most ROI and not be diffused across many good but less important ventures.
Thank you for helping move toward leadership minimalism.
Thank you, Randy. Appreciate your feedback and insights!
Having the time to step back is important. As I have been doing the same, it hit me that we (me) clutter up what matters most in leading for positive impact. Minimalism is more than a way of life; it also is a way of leading. I intend to explore this more. Let me know how your efforts on Focus and Clarity go… I have no doubt it will go far!
Thank you again, and enjoy your break!