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How To Think Like An Executive

Becoming an executive is one of the hardest transitions to make in the corporate world.

This transition is more about who you need to become than it is about the work you can do.

The problem is that changing who you are is not easy. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you can’t just act your way into it.

Think about it: Have you ever wanted to eat healthier, so you tried a healthy diet for a week and then went back to your old habits?

Maybe you wanted more control over your calendar, but after pushing back on three occasions, you gave up and went back to drowning in meetings.

That’s because change starts from within. Not with your actions.

We must first change our thoughts and beliefs to become the person we want to be.

So today, I want to share with you how to shift your mindset to start thinking like an executive and, as a result, become one.

How To Think Like An Executive

Building executive confidence starts with understanding the narratives running through your mind—the stories you tell yourself that shape your beliefs.

It may sound counterintuitive, but most people can’t cross the chasm to executive roles mainly because of skill or experience. It’s their inability to start thinking at the executive level.

After years of thinking like an individual contributor or even a manager, it’s hard to break out of those old patterns and adopt new beliefs.

Some people will eventually experience this shift with time and experience (and a lot of trial and error), but that doesn’t mean you have to sit and wait for it to happen.

You can actively work on developing an executive mindset to help this transformation.

6 Mindset Shifts To Adopt Executive Thinking

If you're looking to shift your mindset and think more like an executive, start with these six:

  1. From Task-Oriented to Strategic Thinking: Start looking at the big picture. Shift your focus from completing tasks to understanding how your work contributes to larger company goals.

  2. From Reactive to Proactive: Take the initiative instead of waiting for instructions. Anticipate challenges and opportunities and take proactive steps to address them.

  3. From Worker Bee to Decision Maker: Begin thinking like a decision-maker. Consider the potential impact of your decisions on the company as a whole rather than just your immediate tasks.

  4. From Individual Contributor to Team Player: Recognize the importance of collaboration and cross-functional work. Start thinking about solutions with a “we” lens, not just a “me” lens.

  5. From Fixed Mindset to Growth Mindset: Embrace a growth mindset and be open to learning and development. See challenges as opportunities to grow and improve rather than obstacles.

  6. From Short-Term to Long-Term Focus: Shift your focus from short-term results to long-term objectives. Start thinking about the company's future direction and how you can help achieve those goals.

Making this transition is a process. Every time your old “employee” thoughts come up, you must replace them with executive thoughts.

Easier said than done. I know.

That’s why I created a cheat sheet for you.

Here are 10 reframes you can use to remind yourself how executives think and shift your perspective:

Your next steps

Becoming an executive starts with an internal transformation. Developing executive thinking requires a shift in mindset, perspective, and beliefs.

Start by implementing the six mindset shifts, moving from task-oriented to strategic thinking, from reactive to proactive, and more. Utilize the cheat sheet reframes to reinforce executive thinking and facilitate your journey toward becoming an effective executive.

I believe in you, and I’m rooting for you.

Maya ❤️


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