Leaders that are doing well tend not to shout about it (the humble ones, anyway). They probably don’t even refer to themselves as having a particular ‘mindset’. They just do what they do. So, what is it that leaders that are achieving high levels of growth think and do that leads to success in most things they get involved in?
They have what is referred to as a growth mindset. Leaders with a growth mindset possess a healthy attitude towards self-development. They believe you can always learn and grow. And with hard work and great strategy’s, you can achieve almost anything you set your mind to.
The opposite to this is a fixed mindset, where people believe that our ability, talent and intelligence are fixed. They cannot be improved or changed. The thinking around self-development is very black and white. You are good at things or you’re not. You can do something, or you can’t.
There are a few great examples of growth and fixed mindsets in the video below. While you watch the video, think about which characters in the clips sound most like you.
Leaders with a growth mindset believe that all our skills and abilities can be developed through commitment and hard work. Our current levels of talent are just the starting point. We are where we are, but we can always get better. This mindset creates a healthy relationship with learning and building our levels of resilience, which are essential for high achievements.
Are you a leader with a growth mindset in all the areas below?
- Are you comfortable with failure? Leaders with a growth mindset see failure as an opportunity to learn and without failure you’re not trying anything new. Like most people, they don’t like to fail, but see this as an inevitable part of growing.
- Do you give up when it gets hard? Leaders with a growth mindset have a never give up attitude. They possess high levels of resilience and push through the tough times. They take the knock backs on the chin and bounce back.
- Do you take risks? Leaders with a growth mindset take calculated risks. They spend a lot of time living outside of their comfort zones and see risk as a necessity to growth. Closely linked to the first questions and your attitude to failure. Do you avoid taking risks because you may fail?
- Do you believe in you? Leaders with a growth mindset believe in themselves. They have high levels of self-awareness and trust their own resourcefulness when it comes to making things happen.
- Are you open to feedback? Leaders with a growth mindset seek out feedback from others. They appreciate that you need to know your gaps in order to improve. They see feedback as a gift and find different ways of gaining feedback on themselves.
- How much effort do you put into achieving your goals? Leaders with a growth mindset put in relentless amounts of effort to achieve their growth ambitions. They know that without hard work, you don’t progress. They believe that the harder they work, the luckier they are.
- Are you happy for others to succeed? Leaders with a growth mindset see others’ successes as an opportunity to learn. They want to understand how others approach the thing they succeed in and adjust their own approach as a result. Asking for help is a fast track to learning quickly.
How do I develop my growth mindset?
The fixed mindset approach to growth mindset would be, you are where you are and that’s it. You’re a fixed mindset person and that’s where you’re staying. We don’t want this. We want to approach this with a growth mindset. We can always improve and get better at things, no matter where our starting point is.
Fixed and growth mindsets both sit on a continuum. We are all in different places and will be growth mindset in some areas and more fixed in others. The trick is, to know where you are fixed and what you need to focus on developing. The questions next to the bullet points above are a great starting point for reflection.
Example. You know yourself well enough to know that you’re not great with feedback. You take it personally. You get defensive. You see it as a personal attack. You even see some blame in there when people provide you with feedback.
This is limiting your opportunity to grow and develop. Without feedback we don’t get an external perspective on our behaviour and our impact on others. And as a leader, this is not good. We need to be self-aware and appreciate our impact on the team. So, what to do about it.
- Agree with yourself that this is an area you are going to commit to working on. Write down what you intend to do and when. And how you will make this measurable. Ask a colleague for feedback at the end of your next 1-2-1 with them and commit to yourself that you will just say thank you. No defensiveness. Measure how it feels to just say thank you and the response you get from your team member.
- Have your 1-2-1 and do what you set out to do. Test your hypothesis.
- Reflect after the session and evaluate how it went. My team member was open and has been more open with me since the meeting. On reflection, I can see their perspective and agree that this is true for them.
- Take away the learning from this. My relationship with the member of my team has improved and we have made improvements based on the feedback.
- Based on the learning what steps can you take to improve. Ask for feedback from all members of the team and promote a culture of openness. Better manage myself and my emotions when receiving feedback.
- Continue the loop and accelerate my learning.
The Secret Weapon to High Performing Teams
Another huge advantage to having a growth mindset as a leader is your attitude towards your team and their development. With a growth mindset, you appreciate that everyone, no matter where they are starting from, has the capability to improve and grow. You understand what it takes to develop yourself and recognise this in others.
Teams where the leader has a high growth mindset index will experience a high level of expectation towards self-development and continuous improvement. This can be a positive thing if you are a high scoring growth mindset person. Not so great if you are weighted more towards a fixed mindset.
So, the real secret weapon is to focus on yourself and your own development. Develop your growth mindset and reap the rewards of being open to change and growth in all areas of your character and abilities. Set the expectation for team members to develop their growth mindset (following your example, not your instruction) and support them in their development.
We all know that in today’s western society and the rate of change, if you are not improving, you are going backwards. Even maintaining the status quo is losing ground, so we need a constant bias towards growth and development.
I will leave you with this quote to reflect on…
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford