How often do you say, “I can’t do this!” What if you added the word ‘yet’ to the end of the sentence? I can’t do this…yet. You have just changed your sentence from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
About 30 years ago Carol Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.” Here are a few beliefs each mindset might have:
- “failure is an opportunity to grow”
- “I can learn to do anything I want”
- “Challenges help me to grow”
- “My effort and attitude determine my abilities”
- “Feedback is constructive”
- “I am inspired by the success of others”
- “I like to try new things”
- “Failure is the limit of my abilities”
- “I’m either good at it or I’m not”
- “My abilities are unchanging”
- “I can either do it or I can’t”
- “Feedback and criticism are personal”
- “When I’m frustrated, I give up”
- “I stick to what I know”
The type of mindset a person has can influence their success as a leader. A fixed mindset can often prevent important skill development and growth. This might sabotage your career, health and happiness in the future.
The benefits of a growth mindset might seem obvious, but most of us are guilty of having a fixed mindset in certain situations. Leaders with a growth mindset are more likely to maximize their potential. They see failure as a learning opportunity as opposed to a reflection of their abilities. They don’t need to prove themselves because they use time to get better and they look for relationships with people who will challenge and encourage growth rather than ones to enhance their self-esteem. They view mistakes as opportunities to learn vs. trying to hide their deficiencies. Although we see the benefits of a growth mindset, sometimes we do not pursue that path actively. Here are a few tips to get you moving in the right direction.
Find a colleague whose opinion you value and who is a great role model. Invite them to give you regular feedback. Ask your direct reports what you can do more of or less of to increase your effectiveness. Take a 360⁰ assessment. Any of these approaches are proactive in nature to help you grow. When you receive critical feedback avoid becoming defensive and explaining your rationale. Just thank the person for sharing and reflect on it as an opportunity to perfect an aspect of your work.
Become a lifelong learner
Successful leaders are continually learning. They are reading, asking questions and are inherently curious. They know they don’t have all the answers. Learning is growing!
Don’t be afraid to set challenging goals for yourself. Always strive to set the bar a tad higher the next time. If you fail, see it as an opportunity to learn something new and try it differently next time. Resilience is key for a growth mindset.
Foster a better work environment
Consider ways to help your employees develop on the job: Apprenticeships, workshops, and coaching sessions. Think about how you can start seeing and treating your employees as your collaborators, as a team. Make a list of strategies and try them out. Do this even if you already think of yourself as a growth-mindset boss. Well-placed support and growth-promoting feedback never hurt.
Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential
It’s summer and everyone is busy! No time to read? Check out this 9-minute video. It’s a book summary of Carol Dweck’s: Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential. I love how it shows mindset through different lenses like being a parent, in sports and business and in relationships.