Cultivating a Leadership State of Mind

The product and design team at Axial is only 6 people (3 in each discipline, excluding me) so we run as a very flat group, working in cross-functional teams. But the flatness of an organization doesn’t mean that everyone in the team can’t try to improve their leadership game.

Leadership isn’t bossing people around. It’s not writing reviews or determining when someone gets a raise. It’s not managing a budget. Those are things you often have to do as a leader, but they aren’t leadership.

Leadership is raising the level of the team, and the individuals on the team, to do great work.

When you think of it that way, you realize that it doesn’t require a job title. You don’t need hard power when people welcome your influence. The most important thing is to have a leadership state of mind.

  • Are you raising the optimism and morale of the team?

You don’t need to get permission from a boss to do and help with those things. A leadership state of mind means you think about them and you take action on them. Of course, a good boss will very much appreciate when you engage her with ideas and a proclivity towards action on these ideas.

And a final note: I’ve learned the hard way that people who wait to be handed the crown won’t be great at what they do with it when they get it.



Thoughts on team alignment and productive work culture.

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Giff Constable

entrepreneur and author of Talking to Humans and Testing with Humans; side project at I blog at