Leadership: Growth Mindset

Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? The mindset you have influences your thinking, actions, and decision making.

In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck points out the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.”

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

Use questions to reflect on your leadership. Are you modeling and communicating a belief that learning is about time, opportunity, and effort which is a growth mindset?  Or, do you communicate through your actions or words that some people are simply more able than others, in a world of those who can and those who cannot?

My Top 5 Growth Mindset Concepts

Reflect on my top five growth mindset concepts as you consider your leadership and commitment to embracing a growth mindset.

Challenges can be opportunities:  Challenges are part of life, work, and school.  It is a personal choice to view challenges as problems or as opportunities to overcome or to improve.

Make the word “learning” part of your vocabulary:  People who believe in growth mindset are always learning.  Are you always learning? Do you demonstrate through words and actions a belief that every person in your organization is always learning?  How do you respond to people who say they can’t learn something new?

Redefine “brilliant”:  Very few people learn new concepts with magical ease.  Most people have to work hard; some may work less than others but almost always there is hard work behind a perception of brilliance.  Schools have been designed to communicate we all learn in lock step.  Such a belief leads to a sorting mentality, everyone does not learn the same or at the same speed. Sorting beliefs are always tied with fixed mindset thinking. 

Change your view of criticism:  As a leader, receiving criticism is part of the job.  The normal response people expect when they criticize another is often anger and resentment instead of an opportunity to problem solve. How you react to criticism speaks to your leadership and mindset.  Here’s my challenge to you: move the personal away from criticism and see it as an opportunity to grow, problem solve, and often to collaborate.

Use the word “yet.”Dweck says “not yet” has become one of her favorite phrases. Not being able to solve a problem can mean you simply cannot do it or you have not solved it yet.  Fixed mindset: you either can or cannot find a solution. Growth mindset: you cannot solve the problem, yet, but with more time, support, and effort you will be able to.  This is a simple concept that can have a profound impact on you and those around you.  So, the next time a person says, “ I can’t do math,” you can have a different and unexpected response for them.

Continue to learn more about growth mindset and how you can grow as a leader and have a positive influence on others!

The Principal’s Leadership Sourcebook