If someone tells you you’re a “born leader” you might want to think twice before accepting that as a compliment.
Of course, possessing leadership skills is an asset, but the idea that you’re born that way also suggests you may be unable – or unwilling – to evolve as a leader. Such is the concept of fixed and growth mindsets.
According to Stanford University researcher Dr. Carol Dweck, those with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence, skills and talent are fixed at birth and can’t be changed. They are often critical of others’ ideas and are problem focused. Further, they’re driven by a fear of failure and a need to be seen as right. This can result in inflexible thinking.
Not ideal leadership material.
Alternatively, those who have a growth mindset believe that while we’re born with a certain amount of intelligence, skills and talent, with effort and practice we can enhance those throughout our lives. They embrace continuous learning, are open to others’ ideas and collaborate with and learn from others.
Sounds better, right?
Although we all have some of both mindsets, we tend to be predominantly fixed or growth. We could be fixed about certain aspects of our lives and a growth mindset about others.
Dweck’s research shows that even organizations fall into these two categories of fixed or growth mindsets. This shapes a company’s culture, its ability to navigate change, develop and retain talent and foster innovation and high performance.
So, what can you do to adopt more of a growth mindset? The brain is like a muscle that can be strengthened and changed with focus and effort. Asking ourselves simple questions like, “What could I learn from this?” or “What one small step could I take to get better?” will help us shift our mindset.
Dweck also recommends letting employees know it’s okay to make mistakes. Research suggests if you do, their cortisol levels will drop, lowering stress and anxiety, which in turn helps them make fewer mistakes. Yet another great reason to adopt a growth mindset approach.
Noesis delivers neuroleadership consulting and training to organizations handling everyday change and major transformation initiatives. We help our Fortune 500 clients scientifically improve leadership.