For many business leaders, success is measured in terms of short-term gains and profitability. But in the 2018 book The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek argues that true business leadership is about cultivating an “infinite mindset,” one built around long-term gains rather than short-term results.
Adopting an infinite mindset is critical to your company’s resilience and growth. How can today’s business leaders champion an infinite mindset within their leadership teams?
First, it’s important to understand what Sinek means by a “finite” vs. an “infinite” mindset. A finite mindset is one that focuses on the immediate future rather than the larger vision and goals of an individual. “An infinite mindset embraces abundance,” writes Sinek, “whereas a finite mindset operates with a scarcity mentality.”
In other words, an infinite mindset isn’t limited by immediate considerations of resource allocation — it is focused on an organization’s continued evolution and development. It’s not about being the “best,” says Sinek, but about being “better.” Being better, he says, “suggests a journey of constant improvement and makes us feel like we are being invited to contribute our talents and energies to make progress in that journey.”
The trick, however, is for corporate leaders to guide this evolutionary process. Sinek writes that “the true value of an organization is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding, not just during the time they are there, but well beyond their own tenure.”
When leadership embraces an infinite mindset, there can be no true limit to what the organization can achieve.
How can today’s leaders commit to developing an infinite mindset among their leadership team (and beyond)? The following tips can help your leadership board make the shift from “finite” thinking to “infinite” thinking.
According to Sinek, a sense of purpose can be more valuable than anything else in business. He recommends that companies “offer people a sense of belonging and a feeling that their lives and their work have value beyond the physical work.”
By doing so, you’ll create a vision of the future that’s more than just a financial bottom line. Employees throughout your entire organization can feel as though they are making a meaningful contribution to your company’s long-term vision, which may result in greater employee engagement.
Leaders can challenge their boards to dream big. If money were no object, where would they like to see the company five years from now? Ten years? Twenty? Asking these questions shifts the conversation away from numbers and metrics to a clear, compelling vision of why the company exists and how you might achieve this purpose.
Sinek emphasizes the need for organizations to build “trusting teams.” If you want to create an infinite mindset, your first step might be to create buy-in among your company’s leadership team(s).
The goal is simple: to encourage your company’s key leaders to get behind your vision and invest in the company’s future. “There is a difference between a group of people who work together and a group of people who trust each other,” Sinek observes. But by creating a common vision, teams will be better able to knit together around this shared purpose.
How do you align your corporate vision with your employees’ day-to-day responsibilities? Think carefully about the story you want your employees to share with others about your company. This may be a helpful starting point for propagating your vision throughout your workplace culture.
Healthy organizations are those that embrace change rather than resist it. But this means something specific when it comes to developing an infinite mindset.
Of course, embracing change means remaining flexible regarding your business strategies, but it also means that your company strives for innovation at every possible level.
Innovation might start with the introduction of new technologies, especially those that maximize business efficiency. But the best organizations also embrace change at the level of ideas. An infinite mindset is one that entertains new perspectives and ideas, seeking to integrate them into the organization’s decision-making processes.
Leadership teams can embrace change by deliberately seeking out opportunities for growth. Books, journal articles, and podcasts can bring in outside perspectives and expose executive boards to today’s best practices.
A finite mindset tends to see competitors as foes to be vanquished. An infinite mindset sees these rivals as tutors to learn from. What are your competitors doing? What’s working for them? Where are they struggling?
Competitive analysis allows you to explore ideas that have already been tested in the marketplace. It also allows you to think about the way other companies in your industry maintain momentum for lasting change.
This may be especially important when seeking strategies to weather a recent crisis. Competitive analysis can also introduce you to new ways of thinking that may help you reach new market segments. Most importantly, though, studying your competitors can help you see how their stories and values are influencing their decisions and how similar values might influence your own.
Maintaining an infinite mindset may require that you look back as well as forward. Think about your most recent business decisions and projects.
The willingness to examine and learn from the past will empower you to maintain a focus on becoming “better,” as Sinek puts it. Your company is a work in progress, and each step along the path is a step toward becoming what you want to be.
Promoting a culture of reflection will also keep you from repeating past mistakes. An infinite mindset doesn’t dwell on the past, but it does seek to make the best of every decision so that you maintain a journey of continuous improvement.
By embracing an infinite mindset, corporations can pivot from a scarcity mindset to envisioning limitless potential. Corporate boards can set the tone for the entire organization.
By placing priority on a shared vision, your company can experience growth that you never dreamed possible.
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