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Most Leaders Are Ignoring Their Biggest Growth Opportunity

Written by: Nicky Espinosa, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


You've heard the statistics. Success is 80% mindset and 20% skill. But what does that really mean? It's not easy to apply this concept in your day-to-day work. We aren’t taught how to tap into our mindset in the average leadership course. It feels too theoretical to many leaders.

So you ignore it. You focus on the stuff that feels more tangible.

Technical skills to manage budget and personnel issues.

Communication skills to handle conflict and manage change.

Strategy skills to set a clear vision and create high-performing teams.

Yes, you need all these skills to be a successful leader.

But it’s only going to get you part of the way there.

You can know exactly what you need to do to fix a cash flow problem or anticipate a market risk, but that won’t help you when you need to build trust and respect among a team. That won’t help you when you are overthinking a big decision and 2nd guessing yourself. That won’t inspire teams to follow you through change.

We tend to value clarity, courage, and authenticity in our leaders. We look up to leaders that have these qualities, but we minimize our ability to build these qualities within ourselves. We tell ourselves that these things are naturally present in great leaders.

You either have them or you don’t.

But that thinking is flawed. These are qualities that can and should be developed in our leaders. This is the work that makes great leaders. This work makes the difference between an impactful, meaningful career and one that has you counting down until retirement.

If you can grow certain personal characteristics within yourself, then you can produce tangible leadership outcomes. Too often, we focus on producing tangible outcomes while ignoring the personal growth that will help us get there. Here are some examples:

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Build trust, respect & credibility among peers.


Establish clear goals and communicate a clear vision so you can build effective, loyal teams.


Neutralize distressing emotions (like taking things personally) Helps you maintain objectivity so you can clearly see the whole picture and quickly identify gaps/opportunities.


Become a more decisive, effective, action-oriented leader. Stop overthinking and second-guessing yourself.


Build your professional brand and let people know what to expect from you.

Energy & Enthusiasm

Motivate teams by modeling positive productivity.

Mental & Physical Health

Build resilience that demonstrates a solid foundation of trusted leadership so people know they can count on you.

They don’t teach this stuff in leadership 101. Your typical mentor isn’t going to help you figure this out. They might not even know how to do it for themselves!

This is some of the most profound development work we will ever do.

It's personal. It's raw. It's vulnerable. It's life-changing.

And we need more leaders to do it and unleash your full potential!

So our world can benefit from your leadership and the ripple effect you have in your circle of influence.

We need more professional development programs that show you how to grow personally.

And let’s not stop there. We need to help more leaders apply personal growth in a professional setting. So you can have the tangible professional outcomes you want.

So where do you start?

1. Stop chasing technical skills that you don’t need.

Sometimes when we want to improve ourselves we focus on the wrong things. This is very common among professionals who are taught to value those technical skills first. When we want to get better at something, it’s easier to focus on the tangible. That’s not to say that those things aren’t valuable, but they aren’t everything. And too many people waste time, energy, and a lot of money getting the extra certifications, earning another degree, or taking another class that they don't need. In truth, you're hoping that this achievement will make you feel more confident and successful. When in reality, the only thing that produces consistent, sustainable confidence is doing the personal work on yourself.

2. Put down the leadership book and pick up the self-help one. It’s time to soak up personal development teachings.

There are a ton of books, gurus, and guides that have been studying our mindset for decades. We just haven't associated that work with the professional world. That's a mistake. Be `open-minded. Take in these teachings and look for opportunities to apply them at work. You'll find that possibilities abound to strengthen your leadership capacity through personal growth.

3. Get a coach

There is no one right way to build confidence in yourself. There’s no perfect way to learn how to feel grounded and neutralize emotions so you can make the most objective decisions. It’s something that’s guided and evolves with reflection and refining. Working with a coach who's experienced in self-development and understands your professional world can be life-changing. A good coach can help you uncover parts of yourself that you can't discover on your own.

When you improve your mindset you tap into the other 80% of your success. Just imagine what you can do with that!

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Nicky Espinosa, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Nicky Espinosa is a leadership expert and executive coach specializing in supporting women executives to reach their full potential. She is a former healthcare executive, author, and professional speaker with 20+ years of senior leadership experience. She is on a mission to close the gender gap in the C-suite by empowering women to confidently level the playing field.



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