I’m currently reading a great book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University that has done a great deal of work in social psychology. In the book she discusses two mindsets – growth and fixed. A person with a fixed mindset tends to believe that talents, skills, and abilities are fixed and typically cannot develop or improve with intervention. Someone with the growth mindset believes that talents, skills, and abilities can be developed and improved over time with effort. She goes on to describe several case studies that portray the two mindsets in a variety of contexts.
Leaders can leverage the growth mindset in order to realize the potential of their organization in a few ways:
1. Adopt the Growth Mindset. Start believing that people, including you, can grow and develop existing and new talents. Stop believing that talent is innate and that people either have it or they don’t. Start believing that people CAN get it if they don’t currently have it. Start believing that people may have OTHER talents and skills that you can begin unleashing on your organization today!
2. Get to Know Your Team…Again. If you have not already done so, ask each of your team members about their passion, interests, aspirations, goals, ambitions, strengths, ideas, and input on business decisions. Getting to know your team in this way will help you understand what everyone really brings to the organization and highlight opportunities for facilitating better performance.
3. Align Projects and Tasks with Team Member Needs. When a project comes up, consider going another route. Rather than assigning projects based strictly on titles and pre-defined job descriptions, assign projects and tasks based on individuals’ needs and interests. After getting to know your team better, aligning the organizations’ needs (i.e. projects, tasks) with your team members’ needs (i.e. aspirations, goals, etc.) will be feasible. A great bonus is the motivation this new alignment will inspire.
4. Inspire and Encourage a Learning Culture. Once you know your team members better and start aligning organizational needs with team members’ needs it is important to establish a culture that encourages people to accept and embrace the challenge of learning and developing new skills. This is a tremendous win-win for the organization and its people because this is an investment in both the individual and the organization. While the individual develops new skills and achieves their goals, the organization enjoys the reward of an ever-improving team. Consider the ROI as people become more productive and valuable. And I am not only referring to climbing the corporate ladder, I am talking about a true increase in ability, skills, and talents.
Carol Dweck highlights some incredible stories of companies that embraced the fixed versus growth mindsets and the significant differences in their performance. Consider IBM pre-Gerstner versus Gerstner-era. Consider GE pre-Welch versus Welch-era. Both of these organizations were of the fixed mindset and suffering until the arrival of those leaders.
Which mindset do you tend to subscribe to? Growth or Fixed? Use these steps to embrace and leverage the growth mindset in your organization and begin getting the best out of your existing organization. Let’s face it, firing and hiring is expensive, distracting, and lowers the remaining team’s moral.