What Great Leaders Have in Common



Over the last few weeks, I have had the immense pleasure of speaking with some of the most inspirational leaders in higher ed. I asked them questions about career progression, success factors, campus politics, work/life balance, leadership, and other related topics. My goal was to collect their best insights and share them with you in my upcoming articles.

As I am reviewing my notes this morning to organize leaders’ insights by topics and commonalities, one fact is jumping at me. While their responses varied by leadership style, personal preferences, gender, culture, and type of institution, one thing appears to be true for all of them.

Great leaders do not waste a second wishing things were different.

No matter the situation, no matter what they observe, their minds don’t think “this should not be happening.

When something undesirable happens, they immediately seek to understand the full picture by listening to each party, then look for ways to resolve the problem.

They do not get emotional.

They do not make things personal.

They do not complain or assign blame.

They do not jump to conclusions.

Instead, they simply accept reality and work from there to make improvements.

How do they manage to do be so grounded and focused?

It is simply how their minds work. Some of them were naturally wired that way and others developed an empowered mindset over time, as they accumulated more experience and wisdom.

I felt it was important to share this observation with you before I even begin to publish their insights next week, because here is the truth:

Anyone can develop an empowered mindset. There is no excuse to remain stuck in old habits and old patterns.

Your past behavior and current habits do not define you. What you think or do isn’t who you are.

What you can do to become a better leader

Consider reading articles and books on neuroplasticity to discover how you can rewire your brain. Your brain can form new neural connections at any point in time and you strengthen them through repetition to develop a more empowering way to think.

 “Neurons that fire together wire together.” ~Donald Hebb

You can train your brain to think new thoughts, develop new habits, change the meaning you attach to things, and completely transform how you feel and how you perform at work.

If you would like me to guide you through it, click here to schedule a phone call to discuss how we can work together.

In the meantime, here is something to get you started. You can observe what your mind does and change it. Your choice of words is tremendously powerful so pay attention to where you direct your thoughts.

Asking quality questions

When you ask yourself a question, your mind answers it, so be intentional and choose empowering ones.


  • “CAN I really do this?” Your mind will contemplate failure.
  • “How WILL I do this?” Your mind will focus on solutions.


  •  “Why does this keep happening?” Your mind will engage in self-pity.
  • “How will I prevent this from happening again?” Your mind will be open to doing things differently and innovating.


  • “Why can’t this person do their job right?” Your mind will sink deeper into blame and disempowerment.
  • “How can I support this person in their professional development?” Your mind will reclaim your power to facilitate someone’s growth.


Interviewing some of the best leaders we have in higher ed. once again confirmed what I knew all along. Mindset is the key to success and leadership.

To advance your career and be fulfilled by your work, it is not enough to gain experience, skills, and degrees. You also need to work on your mindset. It is the most important investment you can ever make.

Need help? I am only a phone call away.

To make sure you don’t miss upcoming articles featuring leaders’ insights, follow me on LinkedIn, or better yet, sign up to receive my e-newsletter.

Live empowered!

About the author: Dr. Audrey Reille has empowered thousands of professionals through one-on-one coaching, group coaching, speaking engagements, online courses, and interviews on international telesummits.  Audrey is the go-to coach for leaders in higher education administration. She empowers them to thrive by reducing stress, optimizing strategies, improving professional relationships, and developing a strong and empowered mindset. For more information and free resources visit ThrivingInAdmin.com

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