Year-end Reflection: Examining Your Growth Mindset

It’s a time of year-end reflection. The hope and possibility of the New Year sits, perched waiting to see what we do with it. I have been thinking about what it really means to live life to the fullest and how to effect true self transformation to achieve meaningful growth. 

As I reflect, what came out of the extensive research I did to understand what makes some leaders more effective than others was a model for effective authentic transformative leadership, in which self transformation is a fundamental pillar of growth and transformation as a leader. Being self-aware and open to learning loosens constraints that prevent growth. And, like so much in life and in work, knowing what your interferences are—and we all have them—enables you to work past them. So, in some ways, self-transformation, like the New Year, presents opportunities to decide what to let go of.

One of my favorite researchers is Dr. Carol Dweck  of Stanford University. Dr. Dweck has undertaken longitudinal research to demonstrate that brain is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. This flies in the face of those leaders, coaches, and parents who think intelligence is fixed and some people have it and some don’t. Or that any capability is fixed.  Dweck’s research describes a fixed mindset as one characterized by an overwhelming desire to please and to look smart. That fixed mindset prevents the growth that occurs when people are able to pounce on organic and planned opportunities to push past their own limits. The “growth mindset,” as she calls it, craves the opportunity to take on challenges, doesn’t give up in the face of problems and errors, and sees effort as the path to mastery.

In other words, it takes practice, practice, and more practice. Here’s a great article that champions practice over innate talent, Never mind talent: practice, practice, practice.

This is huge. The fixed vs. growth mindset graphic, by Nigel Holmes, describes the cycles of development and getting stuck we see so many times in all walks of life. The bully who, in reality, feels threatened, the leader who doesn’t seek or accept criticism, the arrogant colleague who takes credit for work even when she didn’t do most of it—these learners who get stalled by their own fixed mindset.

Back to my research. Those leaders who were able to use approaches that drew them through their apocalyptic experiences into a new world view, those whose boundaries and framework of beliefs became pliable as a result of learning through their experiences: they learned what to let go of and what to hold on to, refusing to become petrified by their circumstances. And this mindset positioned them for greater growth and, therefore, more effective transformative leadership.

Where do you think you stand? We have developed a quick self-assessment based on fixed vs. growth mindset.

Take the Can You Grow Your Growth quiz and ask yourself, “Am I ready to take on the New Year giving it all I have?”

I hope so and wish you all the best on your journey to a growth mindset.

3 thoughts on “Year-end Reflection: Examining Your Growth Mindset

  1. My leadership style is collaborative. I agree that you need to practice, practice and practice to improve: it is a continuous process. I encourage myself and my reports to also observe and study great leaders as this is another great source for improvement. Transformational leadership is becoming more challenging, since shareholders in regard to corporations, the general public in regard to government and NGOs often expect immediate to short-term results. But good things sometimes take time. For example, society today sometimes rewards the cost cutter and not the job creator.

    More emphasis needs to be placed on family and society leadership, as these will also serve as the foundation to produce better leaders in business and government roles. Sometimes I question how well our academic higher education is performing on the subject of producing quality leaders? Some food for thought!

    To always better one’s leadership, to strengthen ones survival attitude for the greater and broader good, and to develop a younger generation of even better leaders is inspirational.

  2. Never did understand the focus so many corporate managers and executives placed on leadership, as if there were keys to advancement. (Full disclosure: I am retired. Google me.) No less puzzling to me was the notion that *advancement* was the reason to show up for work. My own driving forces were satisfaction and high performance. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal, from time to time, has referred to surveys in which top executives said they valued loyalty above all other traits, including integrity, talent and results. Sometimes, management articles also would advise readers to find a highly placed mentor to advance. In any event, leadership — as in respect from co-workers — is earned through integrity, talent and results, no matter what the polls indicate because most co-workers/managers can smell a formulaic “leader” who has eyes on a promotion//

    • Some would say that real leadership comes in small steps taken every day that bring the organization closer to realizing its purpose. I can smell a self-centered, self-promoting advancement skunk a mile away. It sometimes appears that they are winning, but, in the end, it’s authentic, principled leaders that really make a difference.

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