In a decade’s experience, I have had the opportunity to work with many inspiring leaders. My key learning from them has centered around the ability to drive results. While there are many skills we can attribute results to, the key to success in most scenarios have been:
- forward-thinking, and
- never give up attitude.
The reason that this has stood out for me is because the resultant outcome of these behaviors has always been unimaginable business growth, be it high revenues, major client acquisitions, or creating avenues in new markets and segments. A leader who is always thinking four steps ahead, perseveres towards the goal, and has a never give up attitude is someone who I have always seen succeed, not because they are more qualified or more intelligent than anyone else. Rather, it is because they take on every opportunity they find and make the most of it. Such individuals are rarely discouraged by failure. Rather than seeing themselves as failing in a situation, they see themselves learning, and then applying this learning to improve the outcome. In other words, these leaders have had an attitude that is geared towards growth
As goes the saying – One’s attitude determines their altitude. While it is a saying as old as time, it has never been truer than in the current scenario of agile working that attitude is most important. Your response to challenges, difficult tasks and conflict situations within the workplace can define your true ability to adapt in an agile environment. As children, we are naturally predisposed to handle challenges head-on, take risks and be curious. As we grow, we place barriers around ourselves based on what we deem achievable and doable. Refocusing our attention onto our child-like ability to believe in endless possibilities is all it takes to develop this attitude and mindset of growth, according to Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck.
One simple scenario could be how a salesperson responds to losing a deal. An approach to understand the reasons for failure, communicate and embrace the failure and using that as an opportunity to improve a skill will help the person grow better in the career. On the other hand, ignoring the signs will lead him nowhere in winning a similar deal again.
Developing growth mindset behavior, not only improves one’s ability to manage their personal growth, but also influence others around and transform oneself as a leader. Let’s look at some of the growth mindset behaviors in the workplace that can change one’s growth trajectory –
– The ability to learn drives one towards challenges tasks
– The ability to achieve mastery in one’s work
– The ability to see the positive side of criticism or feedback
– The ability to learn from the success/failure of others
– The ability to understand the big picture and drive towards the greater good
– The ability to set new processes and drive results
– The ability to be an agile learner and constantly update their skills
– The ability to set demanding goals for oneself
While this is an ideal state of being, it is not possible for a person to constantly be in growth mode. However, it is important to understand that reason behind this attitude, as well as the pitfalls of it. A growth mindset has a proven track record for success in the age of agile. Therefore, positioning one’s orientation naturally to a mindset of growth is pertinent to their growth and success. Therefore, the first step is believing that one can constantly improve and acquire new skills to be better for the future. With this belief firmly engrained in the mind, an individual is more likely to stay motivated and put in the effort required towards developing a new mindset.
To put this into perspective, Dweck also famously quoted, “We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.” By removing ourselves from those better than us, richer than, more famous than us, or more seemingly accomplished than us, we like to believe that they possess in themselves something that is elusive to us. It is true that these people have something we don’t, but it doesn’t mean that we cannot develop it. Developing a growth mindset isn’t rocket science. It simply requires constant effort.
Let’s look at some areas where working with growth mindset can help –
Continuous Learning to drive Innovation
- Be agile and learn new skills. Believe in the purpose/objective and be aligned to work for the same. Be open to communicating your ideas. This improves ones’ resilience to failure and builds confidence to move forward. Understand the power of “not yet!” – you are not there yet, but you will be if you work hard. Retain the focus on the objective and understand one’s strengths and weaknesses to better manage oneself. That is the mantra to drive new initiatives, make progress and grow ones’ abilities.
Developing Leadership Skills
- Leading by example is the way for one adopting a growth mindset. Owning ones’ attitude is also important to be on the growth trajectory. There is no need to shy away from your attitude for the sake of blending with others. It is important to take up risks in front of others to drive the message of growth to others. At times, these risks might fail, then it is also important to admit the one can be imperfect and use it as a path to learning. Stretch yourself to achieve more and sometimes work out of comfort zone. This will not only build your skills but also team and others in the organization would be able to identify you as someone who is growth-focused.
- As quoted by Sheri Dew “Having influence is not about elevating self, but about lifting others”. Positivity spreads through people. It is important for one to find opportunities to influence others at every touchpoint. Help teams set stretched goals which include them to learn and experiment. Bring in mindset change in people on the purpose of receiving continuous feedback. Also, do receive feedback with the same purpose. Build supportive relationships across the workplace to encourage new ideas and use it as a platform to support and coach others for success.
Developing a growth mindset environment –
- It is important to drive a growth mindset in an organization to be constantly relevant to the industry. It brings in the purpose and sense of alignment towards organization goal and how one can contribute. Allowing the team to try new ideas with an environment which embraces failure, and recognize the effort, can have a long way in building the culture of learning and growth.
To summarize, focus on improving the skills of self and others to drive success. This will not only change one for the better, but also people around create a better working environment. Nobody knows what the future of work will look like, better to be prepared with the ability of continuous learning. Developing growth mindset will only help one be cognitively aware of the situations and be responsible for the unforeseen challenges.