leader looking at the horizon the most ignored leadership secret executive coaching

The Most Ignored Leadership Secret | Executive Coaching

It’s astonishing to me how this one factor is not mainstream when the topic is leadership. I have no doubts that this is the most overlooked leadership secret. I can see the absence of it every day in my work. Maybe it’s there, hidden somewhere inside the overall descriptions about the general understanding of leadership. But definitely not visible enough.

Leadership Basics

Leaders set directions, create a vision, motivate the team, guide as a model through the darkness, and are emphatic and close to the people. These are well-known definitions. Basically, the main point is described in this quote:

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”

John Maxwell

Is this enough? Let’s see.

Motivation takes a leading role when we talk about leadership.

Values are behind motivation. And so, values are important and necessary but not as impactful for performance, creativity, and ingenuity as this one factor.

What Are Values?

What your people think is right or wrong. The things that make them wake up in the morning and go to work content, happy or motivated instead of depressed and lethargic. It’s part of the organizational culture and crucial for cohesive groups and future developments. And yet again, not the main factor when it comes to building an amazing startup, a premium product, a competitive project, or achieving an astonishing achievement.

Then What Is That Leadership Secret?

Good question. What makes a person perform his best is related to the belief systems

What someone believes is possible or achievable will determine the amount and the quality of the resources deployed.

For example, if you, as an executive, are giving an impossible project to your people with an even more impossible deadline, your team has two options:

First, when your people believe in the project and that it’s achievable, they will be unbeatable. 

Second, if they don’t, chances are neither the project nor the deadline will be handled.

Such a powerful message to know and keep in mind. 

If, until now, you didn’t invest enough attention to this, it’s time to start. 

Analyze your previous actions and results based on teams where 100% belief was present, compared to a group where only 50% were on-board, even if they thought it a good project (value).

Mastering The Mind Through Beliefs

A leader who knows this applies the knowledge of the mind. Are you one of them? My hat’s off to you!

If not, it’s never too late to start. In fact, now is the best time to start. So let’s continue.

As a result, the leader who knows the power of beliefs will never send his team to work without showing the big picture first and making sure that everyone’s on board believing in the project. 

Leadership Dilemma

Now, you’ll face a frustrating question. What to do with those individuals who don’t see what you see and are not believers? 

Should you treat them like the rotten apple which ruins the basket? 

Well, that’s one extreme option, and if your project has significant consequences attached, you cannot leave anything to chance. You could remove them from the group and give them a different task outside this particular project.

But you could also take them aside and spend some extra time to see what’s off with their view. What makes them doubt the project? You could find surprising insights into those discussions. It’s a time well spent.

You can even do this as a focus group with all. Sometimes, you’ll see that the best promoters of your plan are other leaders without a title who will back you up or, surprisingly, sell the idea for you.

Worrisome Numbers

From a group of ten unattached and disbelieving teammates you’ll have:

– Two – doing the actual job because they are built this way. They are the gifted ones.

 – Six – doing the necessary filler parts.

 – Two will hang on to the other’s accomplishments. In evolutionary psychology, they are called: free riders.

People who don’t believe in your project won’t do anything extra. They’ll probably follow strict orders, nothing more. They won’t deploy creativity, problem-solving, analytical thinking, or other resources because they don’t see the why. They are not on board with the project, the goal.

“Why work harder, do my best, if it’s in vain?” That’s the mindset behind such a team. Even if you motivate them with bonuses while reminding them of the company culture, the best they will do is follow the group and be team players.

But for ambitious goals, mediocrity is not enough. You want a team doing that extra mile when you’re not around. That’s achievable by belief.

What’s the main asset you gain through belief?


Current Economics & Markets

I’ll give you another example from the real world, something that already impacts the economics of the current markets — something that will erase lots of businesses from the map in the next few years.

There is a lot of capital in the markets right now. Investors throw money into the market by investing in Start-Ups.

The game became raising money for the next venture – from the entrepreneurial side. And gaining passive income from the next “Unicron” – from investors. (The misspelling was intentional.)

That’s why so many tech start-ups are raising capital time and time again, even if the business bleeds a lot of money. We are 6 million in debt, but we’ll do a new round and raise an extra 10 million.

Everything started as a love affair. The Startupper received the money, and The Investor invested money in good faith. Yes, there was a faith in play.

The F Factor

But on the road, any new business faces challenges. And the two players have a different views based on their motivation (values). Once you were funded, the name of the game became – scaling. That’s the leading player now.

If you’re facing challenges on the way, pretty inevitable, you’ll need to adjust your plan to meet the demands. That can make the initial vision lost. An experienced founder will be able to see what’s next and how can (s)he overcome the challenge. But that’s a new idea, a new strategy that could conflict with the investor.

So the founder has two options.

Either sell the new business strategy to the investors, the board (time and time again), and they show green to whatever the visionary wants to do, or they will act rigid and keep the initial script in play. If the initial version stays, but the startupper will feel pressured, the risk is that (s)he’ll be the one who loses faith.

You can imagine what happens. The person or the associates who started everything in the first place become trapped in a game that distances them from what they envisioned. The pressure will cause a domino effect in the markets because the present abundance will vanish for plenty of such deals. Isn’t this obvious?


If you lose belief or never had it in the first place, and you’re an active player in the game, chances are if anything good happens, it will be average and very susceptible to market movements. That’s the best scenario. Most of the time, things will just end, crash, bottom.

Same with your team. 

I would conclude with a personal quote:

Leadership is a game of belief and trust. The demons come from the belief’s side. Even if you’re only leading yourself, the results will be influenced by how much you believe in yourself and your plan. 

Motivation can be hijacked with discipline and a good work ethic. The belief system is a different cookie. Once conquered, the other things will be there to help and empower.

Originally published on LinkedIn

Cristina Imre – The Founder Coach That Takes Your Success to Heart!

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