What Is the “Growth Mindset” and Why It’s Important for Leaders

  • 3 mins read

“Growth mindset” is a term coined by psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck who discovered in a study that neurological activity changes when people focus on the learning process, not just the outcome.

What this means is that the process of acquiring new skills or even knowledge genuinely needs a different mindset. Here’s why this is important for leaders to understand:

What Is a Growth Mindset?

Having a growth mindset essentially means you believe your skills and abilities can grow over time. At first glance, you may assume that’s what everyone believes, but actually, people with a growth mindset are different from the rest.

Specifically, these are the people more likely to accept the learning process and even the mistakes that may occur during it. Moreover, people with a growth mindset are more likely to learn from their mistakes, rather than view them as personal or professional failures.

Because for them, the “reward” of the learning process isn’t ultimately what motivates them. They are driven by the entirely new experience.

Other traits of having a growth mindset can include:

  • Viewing effort as part of the learning process
  • Leading teams with an explicit goal of personal development
  • Not refraining from taking risks
  • Embracing challenges head-on

By comparison, those without a growth mindset (have a “fixed mindset”):

  • Are less likely to take risks
  • May refuse to take on a challenge
  • Believes they are or aren’t good at something right off the bat
  • Tend to blame themselves when things go wrong
  • Feel the need to constantly prove themselves

What Happens When Leaders Shift to a Growth Mindset?

Moving towards a growth mindset can provide leaders with:

  • More confidence and self-esteem
  • More resilience
  • Ability to improve their relationships with staff and executives
  • Even make their daily tasks more enjoyable

How Can Leaders Shift to a Growth Mindset?

Changing the way you think isn’t exactly easy. But like everything, you can learn how to shift your mindset and focus more on growth.

Some strategies that can help include:

Work with a leadership coach - If you don’t have this mindset yet, a leadership coach can help you build it by providing their support and expertise. In a sense, coaches can be that “growth mindset” voice you need to shift your way of thinking;

    • Identify areas for improvement – Accepting your weakness can provide a lot of value since you can see those areas that essentially require growth and learning. It may also help reduce the risk of flat-out dismissing a learning opportunity straight away;
    • Let go of the idea of “perfect” - We all strive for perfectionism, but a lot of times it may hold leaders back. The desire for things to come out perfect can keep you from taking risks and even enjoying your position as a leader.

Transitioning to a growth mindset won’t happen overnight, but with a bit of effort and a lot of patience, you can let go of your limiting fixed mindset.

And once you do, your abilities as a leader may just improve tremendously!

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