The Cheetah Mentality: Learning How to Leadershift

Do me a favor. Take just a moment and watch this video.

Isn’t that amazing?

I love what they say at the end of the video about the cheetah’s legs and feet—it’s almost an afterthought, but it’s such a good lesson.

“These modifications provide the cheetah with increased traction and fast, sharp turns.”

When we think of cheetahs, we think about their ability to go fast. What we don’t often think about is their ability to change directions while going fast, or the way they get back up to speed once they’ve had to pivot.

But it’s that exact skill—the ability to change directions quickly and return to high performance—that makes the cheetah so effective. And it’s the same skill that can catapult your leadership, if you’re willing to embrace it.

I’ve been thinking about this idea for a long time because it’s the subject of my newest book, Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace. The book will officially release on February 5, 2019, but I want to start seeding you with some thoughts about why learning to leadershift is so important.

First of all, we live in a fast-forward world.

Not too long ago, I was asked to offer some thoughts on the phrase, “fast-forward”, and I noted that in the digital age, fast is faster and forward is shorter.

What I mean by that is the pace of change in business and life is so accelerated that a leader has to just buckle in for the ride. Short of the internet disappearing, things aren’t going to get slower. And because of that speed, the time frame for success is much shorter. When I was a young man, a long range plan was ten years; nowadays, it’s more like two.

So as leaders, we have to realize and embrace a fast-forward culture.

The second thought I want to share is that our leadership must be agile to remain viable.

I won’t spend too long on this thought, but let me just ask you this: when was the last time you proactively changed something with your team? The best leaders don’t wait for change to find them—they seek change because they understand its value. Agility is essential for leadership.

And with that, here’s the third thought I want to share: agility plus consistency makes a great leader.

My friend Simon Sinek says it this way:

“One of the best paradoxes of leadership is a leader’s need to be both stubborn and open-minded. A leader must insist on sticking to the vision and stay on course to the destination. But he must be open-minded during the process.”

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, leaders who are both agile and consistent, “have high quality standards, achieve goals, and expect consistency, but are also open to change, keep an eye on the external environment, and understand when old ways of working no longer pass the test of the market in which they compete.”

That’s exactly what it means to leadershift—to regularly make instantaneous, minute adjustments that allow for an almost-missed opportunity to become a seized opportunity.

As a leader your goal is to be a cheetah. With the pace of business and leadership steadily accelerating, leaders can’t afford to stay the same. Opportunities are abundant, but it’s up to you to develop the agility you need to stay on top.

It’s time you learned to leadershift.

27 Comments

  1. Sergio Moukarzel on October 23, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    Always bringing value! It’s great to hear from a person at the pinnacle of the leadership levels.. GOD bless you my friend

    • John Maxwell on November 6, 2018 at 11:43 am

      Thank you, Sergio!

  2. Shernika on October 23, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Awesome teaching thank you

    • John Maxwell on November 6, 2018 at 11:43 am

      Thank you for taking the time to read, Shernika!

  3. Martha Koome on October 23, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I loved the lesson on changing tact so rapidly and ability to move on effortlessly without a wimp. Thank you for sharing.

    • John Maxwell on November 6, 2018 at 11:44 am

      Thank you for reading, Martha!

  4. Satish Kumar Pandey on October 23, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    I appreciate the simplicity with which you express yourself. I think the teacher, the teaching and the disciple merge in you and therefore, you connect so nicely.
    My life has been my teacher. But it is the truth that I haven’t been able to find the right path to indulge in my persuit of finding my purpose of life and realising it.
    I recently came to know about you and your work. I don’t know how can I get your help in gathering my intelligence and energy to do
    that for which I have been created.
    I feel unless I share with you my story of life,
    how shall I be able to get your help.
    Thanks and regards.

    • Jason Brooks on November 6, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Satish–the reason for this blog is to help people. Your story is important, and you are welcome to send your story via email to [email protected]

  5. Ron on October 23, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    Great lesson, I could not agree more about agility and consistency. Not too long ago, I tasked my engineers to move my HQ during a time with many organizational competing priorities. The feedback I received was “it cannot be done!” In short, I told them to present a plan on how it could be done and what exactly they needed from me. Three days later they came out of their office, presented me a plan and a list of things they needed from me. Sticking to my vision, remaining open minded, watching them overcome obstacles with innovative solutions and helping them prioritize efforts enabled the organization to achieve success slightly ahead of schedule. In the end they accomplished the mission, built a state of the art HQ and their sense of pride in the organization was through the roof. I could not be more proud of their stellar efforts! Thank you for sharing this lesson – it triggered a wonderful. memory.

    • John Maxwell on November 6, 2018 at 11:47 am

      What a great story, Ron! Thank you for sharing such a great illustration!

  6. http://lalubhaitravels.com/ on October 24, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Hey! I know this is kind of off topic but I was
    wondering which blog platform are you using for this website?
    I’m getting tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.
    I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    • John Maxwell on October 24, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      Hey there!
      I received your comment to John’s blog and I wanted to let you know that we are also using Word Press. We are on a protected server so perhaps having a company come in and help you monitor your site would be a great next step. I hope you’re enjoying the blog!

  7. Carl Chambers on October 24, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    As a member of JMT, I really enjoyed reading John’s latest blog on having the Cheetah mentality as a leader with not just speed but agility. I am looking forward to learning more about Leadershift on November 16th in West Palm Beach. I received an invitation by email and I immediately discussed the details with my wife. Once we both prayed about it, which I had done even prior to receiving the email, it became clear that my attending is in accordance with the life-altering work that God is about to do not just in my life but in the world. My wife said to me, it has started, are you ready? Yes, I believe so but there’s only one way to tell and that is to go and find out.

    • Bisi Akande on October 25, 2018 at 6:51 am

      Wow. This fresh. The thought on being open minded is the challenge I see more. But it allows a leader to shift quickly when necessary. Without that one can end up sincerly wrong running perhaps with a vision whose time has passed.

      Great one sir.

    • John Maxwell on November 6, 2018 at 11:48 am

      Carl, so glad you’ll be with us in West Palm. It’s going to be an incredible day!

  8. Elizabeth J Mc Intyre on October 25, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    Anything to do with leadership is of great value to me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts of influence.

    • John Maxwell on November 6, 2018 at 11:49 am

      Thank you for taking the time to read and reply, Elizabeth!

  9. Juan Alberto Laverde on October 25, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks J! Straight, pragmatic and in constant evolution…

    • John Maxwell on November 6, 2018 at 11:49 am

      You’re welcome, Juan!

  10. Herbert Duran on October 25, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Today I started reading THE 17 INDISPUTABLE LAWS OF TEAMWORK. I am just in the beginning of the book but I can tell is AMAZING! God bless you John C Maxwell for bringing such an amazing teaching to humanity.

    • John Maxwell on November 6, 2018 at 11:51 am

      So glad you’re enjoying The 17 Laws, Herbert!

  11. Patty Dreier on October 27, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Nature has so much to teach us. Thanks for highlighting an exceptional example, John!

    • John Maxwell on November 6, 2018 at 11:50 am

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Patty! And thanks for the encouragement!

  12. Margaret Daway on October 29, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    I was watching the video and by nature the impala being chased by the cheetah here has faster speed of 80miles per hour according to research. However the problem with the impala is their being fearful on the inside which retards their progress..eventually being caught by the cheetah. Also the impala was younger than the cheetah in the video…which could mean that a young fearful insecure leader can easily be overtaken by a focused, agile, faster and mature leader. The timing of this blog post is so key because I was just watching the eagle attacks in the wildlife and I realized how important the strength of its wings were when the eagle gripped the alligator up in the air to turn this crocs as the family meal of the eagle. Of course this is another topic but what interests me is the eagle mentality of strengthening its wings by facing and enduring the storms of life. Facing adversity with wisdom and integrity is to her advantage later.

    • John Maxwell on November 6, 2018 at 11:50 am

      You bring out some amazing points, Margaret. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Akintunde Adekunle on November 5, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    Reading any of John Maxwell’s books is a blessing for me any day,any time.
    No doubt,this new title will be a bestseller of all times!

    • John Maxwell on November 6, 2018 at 11:51 am

      Thanks for the kind words and encouragement, Akintunde!

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