Suppose you submit a proposal to senior management to get approval for a new project and your presentation did not go well. Would you be annoyed or embarrassed? Maybe you would be disappointed for a few minutes and then dismiss it as an instructive moment. How you react to such a situation reveals a lot about you as a leader.
A mindset or a thinking pattern is a mixture of beliefs, thoughts and perceptions that shape how we see ourselves, how we behave and how we react to our environment. Your mindset also plays a role in whether or not you pursue and achieve your goals.
Carol Dweck, a researcher at Standard University, introduced the concepts of Fixed and Growth Mindsets in her book Mindset - the new psychology of success: An individual who has a fixed mindset tends to assume that his intelligence and abilities are unchanging over time. Someone with a growth mentality believes that these qualities can develop and unfold with learning and determination.
Being a mindful leader means understanding the difference between a Fixed and Growth Mindset. While a fixed mindset is likely to hold you back, a growth mindset allows you to have a productive working life, develop your leadership skills, and maintain resilience and a satisfying life. Mindful Leadership can help you to acquire the thought patterns and behaviors of a Growth Mindset, as well as recognize and change the thought patterns and behaviors of a fixed mindset.
The following 8 steps will help you cultivate a Growth Mindset and become a better leader.
Why should I change a Fixed Mindset?
People with a fixed mindset think that they were born with the talents and qualities that they currently have, and that these cannot change. These people seem to take a constant inventory of their skills, but do not work to improve them. The lack of effort is partly due to the fact that people with a mixed mindset tend to think that talent should get them where they need to go without much effort.
People with a fixed mindset tend to be intent on appearing intelligent. People who do not believe that they can develop their intelligence do not want to look stupid in front of others because they do not see any possibility to rehabilitate themselves after a mistake. The desire to maintain a façade can keep people from taking risks and trying new things because they are afraid of failing.
The impact of a fixed mindset on leadership skills is considerable. The fear of failure combined with the misguided notion that you cannot improve your intelligence or skills can keep someone from looking for new opportunities. Also, people with a fixed mindset who already hold a leadership position may not be able to expose some employees to new challenges or opportunities because they believe that people who seem to lack skills or talent cannot improve.
Why is a Growth Mindset an advantage?
With some perseverance and the right training, skills can flourish over time. If you believe that there are no limits to what you can achieve, you will probably spend the extra time and effort to develop your skills and look for new ways to test those skills.
People with growth thinking put more emphasis on becoming smarter than appearing smart. Their current level of intelligence is only one indicator of their potential. They do not expect everyone to achieve the same level of competence but they believe that most people can do better if they make an effort and are patient in their progress.
People with growth thinking do not necessarily like to fail, but they are willing to endure it if they can learn from their mistakes. In contrast to people with a fixed way of thinking, these people do not avoid challenges, but actively seek them out. If they fail they are ready to learn from their experiences. They worry less about looking incompetent because they know that they can do better with practice. For these reasons, growth-oriented managers are eager to delegate responsibility to their employees and are open to the fact that they make mistakes.
How do I develop a Growth Mindset?
As mentioned before, your intelligence or abilities are not fixed. If you feel that your beliefs are preventing you from achieving your full potential, you should consider that you may have a fixed mindset and that there are ways to change your limiting tendencies.
1. Do not stop learning and do not be afraid to make mistakes
It is never too late to learn something new and expand your knowledge. Many successful people spend their whole lives learning and improving. Research suggests that daily self-reflection and informal experiences tend to foster learning and leadership development and contribute to a more global mindset. Furthermore, you will explore their beliefs about making mistakes. Making mistakes is an essential part of learning and should not be sanctioned by you as a leader. Cultivate a constructive approach to mistakes and create an environment where making mistakes is allowed.
2. Go out and fail
Many managers in business traditionally frown on failure. However, the willingness to make mistakes is like failing forwards; it provides effective lessons. Failure only hurts if the fear of it holds you back. Mindful Leadership Coaching can help you face your fears and through conscious reflection become aware of your beliefs about failure.
3. Be open to constructive criticism
People with a fixed mindset fear that feedback will make them look bad and regard criticism as a personal attack. As with mistakes, feedback gives you the opportunity to learn and change bad habits. Learn to regard constructive criticism as advice for which you do not have to pay! Mindful Leadership exercises like Presencing can help you to listen more consciously and to understand and control the impulses that go along with criticism.
4. Find some role models you can emulate
Can you think of an executive in your organization or industry who seems to have what it takes to succeed? If this manager is one of your colleagues, don't see him as a threat and don't compare yourself to him. Instead, think of him as a person who has achieved what you want to earn for yourself. Instead of being jealous of these people, learn from their example.
5. Be persistent
Be patient and remember that it takes time to develop a new skill. Leaders who stick to their goals do so out of determination, especially in stressful times. A fixed mindset can make you want to give up if you don't master something immediately. Instead, use the learning curve and know that you need to take this time to refine your craft. If you need help setting your goals in a conscious and structured way, a Mindful Leadership Coach can help you.
6. Be aware that your results do not reflect your true self
They are not your successes or failures. Try not to focus on your results, ratings or measurements as indicators of who you are. Instead, be aware that such measurements only reflect what you do. The actions you take to develop your skills more accurately reflect your true identity.
7. Leave your comfort zone
People with a fixed mindset find a new challenge intimidating because they don't want to fail and look bad in front of others. Whether it's starting a new job or accepting a promotion, doing something new can be uncomfortable. But leaving the comfort zone is an opportunity to change your future. Accepting that there will be obstacles and setbacks along the way means that you are open to gaining new knowledge and valuable experience.
8. Do not get too involved with other people's approval
Successful managers do not take the trouble to gain the approval of others for every decision. They know that any weakness they show is not a lasting reflection of who they are. If you care too much about pleasing others, try to replace the need for acceptance with the desire to learn. Learning for your own benefit, in turn, increases your motivation to grow as a leader.
Practicing mindful leadership requires work, and you only frustrate that effort by accepting a fixed mindset. Decide to maintain a growth mindset and take your leadership skills to the next level. It is not just about productivity and effectiveness in the workplace; it is also about maintaining your overall well-being. A Mindful Leadership Coaching can help you to address the above mentioned points with you and help you to cultivate a growth mindset. Take a look at our coaching offerings and learn more about our approach and procedures.