What is your leadership mindset? What are your self-conceptions and beliefs that drive your behavior as a leader?
In many cases, these are unknown because they operate beneath the level of our conscious awareness. Yet they are crucially important because they affect the way we approach people, situations, opportunities, and risks.
In short, our mindset is an essential factor in the quality of our leadership, yet we often operate in the dark about how and why.
Enter Carol Dweck and her path-breaking research on mindsets.
Dweck is a professor at Stanford University who studies motivation, personality, and development. According to Dweck, her “work bridges developmental psychology, social psychology, and personality psychology, and examines the self-conceptions (or mindsets) people use to structure the self and guide their behavior.” She distinguishes between two mindsets:
People with a fixed mindset tend to:
By contrast, people with a growth mindset tend to:
As a leader, whether you approach a situation with a desire to look smart by maintaining the status quo or a desire to learn by embracing challenges (even if it’s hard and people see that you don’t have all the answers) makes an enormous difference. All the more so in today’s world of rapid technological change, fast-moving trends, and disruptive innovations that upend old practices and business models.
Your leadership mindset is especially evident in your reaction to failure:
Do you dread the prospect of failure because you view it as an embarrassing reflection on your competencies?
Or are you open to the prospect of failure because you view it as a sign that you are stretching yourself in new areas? Do you summon the courage to trudge into the swamp of uncertainty, where you can learn and grow and thus improve your future performance (and confidence)?
Dweck points out that our mindset plays an important role in all aspects of our lives, affecting our levels of stress and success.
We are all born with certain predispositions, and our upbringing and schooling make powerful imprints on our psyches. But here’s the good news:
Questions for Reflection:
Post Script: If you would like to learn more about Carol Dweck’s work on fixed vs. growth mindset, here are some resources:
How Mindset Affects Business Leadership
Bob and Gregg Vanourek, father and son, are co-authors of Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, winner of the 2013 International Book Awards (Business: General). Twitter: @TripleCrownLead
Tags: Bob Vanourek, Brainology, Carol Dweck, Carol Dweck Mindset, Choices, Fixed Mindset, Gregg Vanourek, Growth Mindset, Lead, Leader, Leaders, Leadership, Mindset, Personal Values, Triple Crown Leadership