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Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset
I overheard a recent conversation where a manager was talking to another manager. She told her peer that she just couldn’t find the right people for her team. She had hired a number of people and then ended up firing them because they didn’t produce. Her peer said that he had a secret hiring question that he would ask people and if they answered it correctly, he knew that they were going to perform well. Wow! A secret question.
Are you now wondering what the secret question was? Wouldn’t it be great if you could just ask one question and have all of the answers that you need to determine someone’s performance level. Well, I’m not going to tell you the secret question. Why? Because as I listened a little longer I found out that the secret question didn’t work all that well. The first manager asked how many folks he had fired in the last year. He said “1”. She then asked what his turnover rate was for the last year. He said about 50%. You see, he didn’t have to fire the people because they quit!! I guess his secret question couldn’t predict that.
Do you ever feel like you’re always looking for the right people to be on your team? Wouldn’t it be great if they just came with a sign that said “I’m a high performer.” Some people do! They have stellar resumes and references. However, the key is not whether or not they are an A+ player. The key is will they be an A+ player FOR YOU!!
Often times as leaders, our focus is the challenge. Let me explain. I read a book once about relationships that said you have a couple of options when it comes to marriage.
- Find the right person to love
- Love the person you find
If you choose to do the first, you are always looking and searching for that “right” person.
If you choose to do the second, you are always learning and growing.
This approach also applies to management and leadership. You have a couple of options when it comes to your team:
- Find the right person to do the work
- Work with the person that you find
If you choose to manage the work, you are always looking for the “right” worker.
If you choose to lead the people, you are always building a team.
Which mindset do you have?
A fixed mindset is the mindset used for the first choice. A fixed mindset is a basic belief that people don’t grow or change. They are the way they are. You can’t change them. They’ve either got it or they don’t. People who only know how to manage typically have this mindset. If they can’t manage the human “doing” to do the tasks, they get another human “doing” to do it.
A fixed mindset causes you to avoid challenges and obstacles. You become an expert at circumventing difficulties because you see them as unnecessary. You can simply ignore negative feedback (and maybe even this newsletter) because there’s nothing you can do to change. “I am what I am” may be your dominant thought. Also from this fixed mindset, you are threatened by the success of others. You don’t want them to do or look better than you because your mindset tells you that you can’t do anything to change reality (except make them look bad or you look better). With a fixed mindset, there is a lot of comparing that goes on along with a lot of blame, excuses, and denial. You may even want to build an empire so that you can prove your worth.
A growth mindset is the mindset of the second bullet. With this mindset, you believe that people have the capacity to grow and to change. You believe in your ability to influence them. You also know that being “nice” isn’t always the most valuable approach. You are motivated by challenges and persist through obstacles because you know that you will end up a stronger, better person on the other side. Failure isn’t final; it’s simply feedback. This feedback is necessary to give you a new perspective from which you can learn and grow. You know that effort is necessary for progress and development. You celebrate the success of others and their ability to learn and grow. You see your team members as human “beings” first and human “doings” second. You may even measure your worth by the number of people who used to be on your team that are promoted to your peer or beyond.
Johanna Mansfield Sullivan
Johanna Mansfield Sullivan was born in 1866 and in 1880 went blind from an untreated illness. She was sent to the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA. At only 20 years old, she became an instructor at the school. In 1887, she was taken to the home of a deaf and blind 6 year old girl where she immediately began to teach her to communicate, by spelling words into her hand, beginning with “d-o-l-l” for the doll that she had brought her as a present. The little girl became frustrated with all of this but finally, after more than 30 consecutive days of spelling words into Helen Keller’s hands, Anne Sullivan was able to break through. Keller became the author of 12 published books and several articles and is known the world over. Without Anne Sullivan’s growth mindset, the world would’ve never seen Helen Keller’s brilliance. Anne Sullivan saw Helen Keller as a human “being” first!
The Secret Question
So, what’s the secret question to knowing whether or not someone will be a good team member? Let me give you one… “Do I believe in this person’s ability to learn and grow?” If YOUR answer to that question is “No” then you are not the leader for them. If YOUR answer to the question is “Yes” then you have got a chance to lead and create something special in this world with that person as a member of your team. Oh, and on another note… what you create may not be the successful completion of your project, but something far greater. You may just make a difference in the life of another human being.
Leaders must have a growth mindset! Not only for themselves but for those that they work with and lead. This is how you find peace and significance… by positively impacting the lives of those you lead while creating the value that your life’s work is intended to create.
Looking for a Unique & Powerful Workshop?
I have two workshops that are great for teambuilding and helping to develop a positive corporate or team culture.
If your company or organization is interested in helping to improve the performance of its team or members, please consider one of the workshops below. (Click on the images below to learn more.)