Have you ever come across a manager who didn’t feel he or she needed improvement?
Psychologist Carol Dweck of Stanford University has done research on mindset and how the mindset you choose significantly affects how you lead your life. Dweck’s extensive research has shown that a manager’s mindset can have a significant impact on your business as well. Dweck indentifies two mindsets:
Fixed mindset: intelligence is a fixed trait
Growth mindset: intelligence is a flexible quality; intelligence can be developed
Fixed mindset leaders believe looking smart is most important. They perceive effort as negative since they believe their intelligence is fixed and effort undermines their natural abilities. Growth mindset leaders believe learning is more important than looking smart. They perceive effort as positive since the more effort you exert, the more you can develop and grow. One study revealed the common characteristics of managers for both mindsets:
Fixed mindset managers:
- Do not admit and correct their deficiencies
- Do not notice improvement in their employees; first impressions last
- Don’t have an accurate view of themselves (they try to block negative information)
- Don’t mentor their employees as much
- Can’t take criticism
Growth mindset managers:
- Notice improvement and growth in their employees
- Provide better quality coaching and development
- Have an accurate view of themselves
- Mentor employees rather than judge them
- Understand a large part of their job is to nurture the skills and abilities of employees
The good news is that we can change our mindset. A group of managers who went through a “growth mindset workshop” showed more openness to feedback, a greater willingness to mentor employees, and openness to employee change after they completed the workshop.
Understanding mindset and how it affects a manager’s impact is an important consideration in developing current and future leaders.
I recently watched a video featuring psychologist Carol Dweck called Mindset, Motivation and Leadership. Her research suggests that the view you adopt significantly affects how you lead your life.
People with a fixed mindset believe that individuals are born with the intelligence and skills they will have throughout life, and there is very little possibility of growth or development. They believe time and energy is best spent sharpening the natural skills we were born with. People who have a fixed mindset often feel they have to prove themselves over and over.
People with a growth mindset believe anything is possible, and individuals have the capability of developing new skills and talents. They believe your basic skills and qualities can be developed through effort. Dweck says a fixed mindset turns you away from learning and a growth mindset turns you to learning.
So how does this apply to leadership? Research has shown that what differentiates top leaders from everyone else is effort. These leaders don’t just capitalize on their strengths, but also address their weaknesses. They embrace learning and development, and strive to be better. Fixed mindset leaders often don’t put in the effort to develop because they believe any failure they encounter puts their intelligence into question. The fixed mindset leader is constantly trying to prove they are smart or talented.
I see this first hand in my work coaching leaders. Those who get the best results from coaching and leadership development programs are the leaders who work at mastering the material and the skills. They focus on continuous improvement, work at applying the concepts, and read more than the average leader. The good news is that we can choose our mindset. Mindsets are beliefs, and the first step to changing your belief is realizing you have a choice. Dweck suggests making a solid plan for growth as a first step in changing your mindset.