Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fixed or Growth, What's in your mindset?

I have posited in earlier posts that learning and adapting are key and essential elements of quiet leadership. The hypothesis of an earlier post, It's All About Learning, Part Deux is, "Highly effective, remarkable leaders must be continuous, lifelong learners."

This week, I was introduced to the work of Carol Dweck, professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Her work brain development and learning further validates the importance of learning to success. The short video will give you an introduction to her work.

In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck identifies two mindsets, i.e. fixed and growth, that impact and influence people's success.

1. People with a fixed mindset believe that talents and abilities are fixed. You are rationed an amount and those are the cards you are dealt.

2. People with the growth mindset believe that talents and abilities are developed through education, work, passion, and persistence.

It seems like a simple concept to suggest that people with an openness to learning have greater success and the research of Dweck and others bears this out. It's a pretty simple concept and straightforward relationship.

What can the leader do to increase learning? It appears that encouragement and coaching can have an impact. One study of student achievement by Dweck and others compared the student results across two groups who were learning study skills. The control group received only the standard study skills training. The experimental group received the study skills training and were also taught, "how they could learn to be smart—describing the brain as a muscle that became stronger the more it was used." The skills improvement in the experimental group exceeded the improvement in the control group suggesting that the perception that a person has about their ability to learn impacts learning.

My simple interpretation of the research for leaders is to coach, mentor, encourage, and create opportunities for learning for yourself and the people around you. You are hoping to avoid mindset "lock down" and foster the growth mindset for greater success. Again, it seems that it is "All about learning."

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

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