Have a Growth Mindset … for others!

person holding a green plant

I was speaking with an ex-colleague a few months ago, and they shared with me something that happened to her at work.

Her supervisor told her to “… get a growth mindset. You have a fixed mindset and you need a growth mindset!” Her response, not sure if it was verbal or just to herself, was, “My mindset is my own business!”

Telling is not developing!

It made me think of how we assess others. When I think of fixed vs growth mindset I apply it to myself. What areas do I need to grow in? (still looking at you, touch-typing!)

But this interaction made me think how managers and leaders (and co-workers for that matter) consider those around them. Do they have a fixed mindset about others, even if they have a growth mindset about themselves?

Does considering oneself to have a growth mindset, create a level of false superiority over those one thinks have fixed mindset. I say false, because anyone with a true growth mindset would be considerate of others and work with them, not talk down to, or about, them.

Consider terms like:

  • that’s the good old Tom we know
  • she’ll never change
  • they’ve always been like that
  • you need to have a good think about your future (meaning someone is fixed in their current situation)

If we are in a fixed mindset about others, our coaching and interactions will bear this out. We will coach with a limited view of achieving outcomes. Because “they’ll never change” we don’t look for alternative solutions or coaching methods. And even if we do sometimes, it’s simply to prove they can’t change! The good old, “I’ve tried everything!” approach (personal experience!).

If we are providing feedback to our manager on our team’s performance, our report will be governed by our view of them. This goes both ways, by the way. It’s called the “horns and halo” effect.

There is a great video on the Ladder of Inference by Cheryl Williams. Suffice to say, we behave in accordance with our assumptions of others.

And then, what do you do when you’re in this situation? It can be difficult to change our views because we have built up such database of evidence in coming to our conclusions assumptions. We develop blindspots to what people do well, so their fixed mindset behaviours are highlighted while their growth mindset behaviours are diminished.

Conclusion

We absolutely need a growth mindset around our own performance.

We also, perhaps more importantly, need to have a growth mindset with our colleagues, direct reports and those we interact with at work.

Photo Credit: Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

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