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May 30, 2023

Why Leaders Should Practice a Growth Mindset

Dr. Carol Dweck, American Psychologist and current Stanford University Professor,  has spent numerous years researching behaviors, motivation, and mindsets. Dr. Dweck provides solid information about two mindsets, fixed and growth, and how each guides our learning and leadership. 

To humbly summarize Dr. Dweck’s extensive research, the fixed mindset is exactly how it sounds- closed or resistant to new ideas, new pathways, or new learning around a topic or area of improvement. The fixed mindset believes results are based on talent and new learning is not possible if that talent is not readily apparent.  In contrast, the growth mindset allows for new information to be gained to change and improve our belief systems which in turn propels new thoughts and potential. 

Educators in leadership roles holding a growth mindset take pleasure in opportunities to learn new things. They are willing to unlearn strongly held beliefs and strategies that have worked in the past. This type of unlearning can be much harder than new learning but often just as important. The growth mindset allows the leader to provide strong mentorship to others and grow personally. And the most amazing feature? Leaders with a growth mindset embrace failure and see it as a natural part of development, allowing for a lower-risk, lower-stress environment for those working with the leader.  The following visual can be used to drive a proactive, goal-related process for leaders, staff, or students. 

GP Strategies, a Talent Transformation and Learning Development Organization,  also conducted research on mindsets for business leadership and uncovered four particular mindsets for leaders to be highly effective.  From their blog summary, the four noted are:  

  1. Growth
  2. Inclusive
  3. Agile
  4. Enterprise

The research shows growth as the ability to learn from the past and adapt to new and changing environments in a clear, efficient, and positive manner.  Inclusivity shows the leader actively gaining insight and specific feedback from all team members, ensuring all feel safe to engage and that all input is relevant and needed. To be agile is especially needed during times of upheaval or change. The need to stay calm, make decisions with potentially incomplete information, and assure team members through strong consistent communication is essential as processes may be in flux and many may be overwhelmed. Enterprise is viewed as the outside contributors, negative or positive, that are on the minds of the leaders and all staff. A strong leader regains focus and connectivity to align with the organization’s shared purpose and those that are being served. 

Education and business can align when reviewing the strong characteristics of a growth mindset; both are serving team members and clientele of students or customers. The highlights from both areas of research for me is the alignment of purpose for those served and the ability to be nimble in the face of change in both actions and internal beliefs.

Take a moment to think about your mindset:  

  • Which aligns most with you from those noted above?  
  • Does your mindset differ depending on your environment?  
  • Does it differ depending on the task? 
  • Using the visual above and thinking of a specific area in your work environment, what steps can you take in the areas of learning and effort to further your mindset?

If you want to change your mindset from fixed to growth in one or more areas, there is exciting news! Per Google:  “Having a growth mindset means believing that a person’s abilities aren’t innate but can be improved through effort, learning, and persistence. A growth mindset is all about the attitude with which a person faces challenges, how they process failures, and how they adapt and evolve as a result.”

For additional learning:

Mindfulness Courses from Teaching Channel

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