Shift Your Mindset

Choose “Thrive” Instead of “Survive” Do you ever wonder why some very smart people don’t live up to their potential? Maybe even you are included in this category. It may come down to… mindset. Mindset is “an established set of attitudes held by someone,” says the Oxford American Dictionary. It turns out, however, that a set of attitudes needn’t be so set, according to Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford. Dweck proposes in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, (2006) that everyone has either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. According to this accomplished researcher and Stanford professor, we have the power to shift our mindset from one that barely gets us by to one whereby we thrive. Open and Closed Mindsets Everyone has two basic mindsets: open with growth, or closed and fixed. One mindset is open to learning and changing, believing one can always do better. The fixed mindset is entrenched in the belief that natural talents and abilities predetermine success. With an open mindset, people believe they can always learn more, do more, and improve. They are confident, yet humble enough to work harder to expand their potential. They accept criticism as important feedback, not as a personal insult. With a closed mindset, people believe success is based on their innate talents; thus, they needn’t work hard. They think their abilities are set in stone: either they have them or they don’t. They must prove themselves over and over again, trying to look smart and accomplished at all costs. Mindset Motivates Behavior When you have a fixed mindset you: Want to look smart (which...

Put Positive Leadership into Action

Executive coaches and leadership consultants who encourage positive thinking often encounter cynical, hard-driving executives with a close eye on the bottom line. But positivity coaches have come a long way since author Norman Vincent Peale preached his positive philosophy of faith and miracles. Today’s positive-psychology movement is founded on empirical evidence. Social scientists have documented the benefits of optimism, emotional intelligence and happiness in multiple work settings. Positive leadership is no longer seen as a feel-good ideal with little bearing on business results. Mounting evidence reveals that leaders who focus on their people’s positive contributions, while concomitantly achieving tough goals through measurable tasks, enjoy higher performance outcomes. While positive leadership is gaining traction among CEOs and executive teams, it’s often poorly understood and implemented. University of Michigan management professor Kim S. Cameron, PhD, offers a cogent definition of the term in his new book, Practicing Positive Leadership: Tools and Techniques That Create Extraordinary Results (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2013): “Positive leadership refers to the implementation of multiple positive practices that help individuals and organizations achieve their highest potential, flourish at work, experience elevating energy and achieve levels of effectiveness difficult to attain otherwise.” Finding the Right Feedback Ratio A wave of research reveals that “soft”-sounding positive management practices – including conversations focused on dreams, strengths and possibilities – motivate people to achieve higher performance levels. In fact, the more positive the message, the better the outcome. But managers are charged with pointing out what’s not working and solving real problems – a mandate that presents a potentially frustrating leadership dilemma: How can you focus on the positive when continually required to...

How to Value Your Voices

It can be extremely difficult to express your personal values at work, especially when confronted with questions of right vs. wrong. Issues become thornier when you’re facing a choice between degrees of right vs. right. While research reveals universal values across cultures, not everyone agrees on what makes a worthy business decision: Honest Respectful Responsible Fair Compassionate Most of us want to bring our whole selves to work: our skills, ambitions and deeply held beliefs. We will inevitably encounter values conflicts during our careers, particularly when our goals and ideals clash with clients’, peers’, bosses’ and organizational expectations. We have witnessed egregious managerial and financial misconduct during the first two decades of the 21st century. Employees at all levels assuredly observed ethical lapses, but found it hard to speak up and stop the foreseeable train wrecks. We can list plenty of examples, but none more outrageous than 2008’s financial implosions. Employees had to have known something was amiss, but they danced as long as the music played. Past attempts at preparing business leaders to act ethically often failed – not because they couldn’t distinguish right from wrong, but because they didn’t know how to act on their values amid opposing pressures. Many people believe blowing the whistle won’t do any good. And how can they effectively object without assuming personal risk? Some of us also struggle with framing objections in a rational way, without assuming the role of “morals police.” We simply lack practice in holding values-based discussions. Giving Voice to Values In Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right (Yale University...