Carol Dweck, Ph.D., published her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” in 2006. This groundbreaking book explored the difference between those who are successful in school, careers, leadership, and personal and professional relationships and those who are not.
What she discovered was the presence of two different approaches to how people think about themselves and the world. She developed the idea of two different mindsets, one which is fixed, and the other which focuses on growth.
The Fixed Mindset
People with a fixed mindset believe that you have specific talents and intelligence, and these things are fixed. In other words, you cannot change or improve over the levels that exist. Talent, skills, and abilities are seen as innate, and attempting to improve or make changes is simply wasted effort.
Leaders with a fixed mindset try to hide their perceived shortcomings while holding on to any recognition they get for their talents and ability. Criticism is seen as a personal attack. They are often unwilling or unable to recognize the success of those around them.
Mixed minds leaders do not attempt new things for fear of finding they have reached their limit and have no ability to go farther. At the same time, as they see things are fixed and unchanging, they see little benefit in professional development, personal challenges, setting goals, or striving to become better.
Not only do fixed mindset leaders see themselves like this, they see their team, colleagues, peers, and even those in their personal relationships in the same way.
The Growth Mindset
Leaders with a growth mindset are the opposite of those with a fixed mindset. They see the potential for self-improvement at growth as a part of life. They also see talent, skills, and elements of intelligence and knowledge can be constantly improved throughout life. There is no cap or limit on what you can achieve if you take the opportunities to learn, accept challenges, and try new things.
The leader with the growth mindset also sees the benefit in practice, trying new things, and using failures as a learning opportunity. Feedback and constructive criticism are seen as efforts to help, not to hurt or humiliate. These leaders also see the success of others as a positive, inspirational aspect of their role within an organization or within a community.
Leaders with a growth mindset look at others in the same way. They see the potential in those around them. They encourage others to keep learning, developing skills, and taking the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone and try something new.