Growing pains, they’re as real for leaders as they are for children. Unfortunately, as we age, we become more resistant to change and more content with maintaining the status quo. It’s cozy there, we know how to perform there. We also know the results we’ll get, they’re pretty much the same we got last quarter, last year. And that’s a problem. Merely maintaining the same level of results clearly won’t drive our business forward and it certainly won’t increase shareholder value.
So, how do we get ourselves out of the rut?
Cultivating a growth mindset, one that embraces challenges and sees them as opportunities to develop, can get you unstuck. The term “cultivating” is intentional here, because this mindset can’t be taught and learned through one workshop, one book or, alas, one blog post. You have to want it. You have to continually work for it. But, as a growth mindset would say, “Bring on the challenge! I can learn how to do this! If I mess up, that’s okay, I’ll try again.”
According to Dr. Carol Dweck, who developed the growth mindset concept, and is the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “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.”
Ready to GROW?
Practice (again and again!) these strategies to begin cultivating your growth mindset.
- Proactively and regularly seek feedback
Ask, “What could I have done better?” Encourage not only positive but also critical feedback. Listen and respond to the feedback with adjusted behaviors and approaches. And then return to the provider and ask for feedback again. Ask, practice, repeat.
- Identify and take on new and challenging assignments
Stretch your skills and get out of your comfort zone. View this as a learning experience. Take time during the assignment to regularly review your development and see how you’ve grown your perspective and knowledge. Identify hurdles you faced and lessons learned. Leverage those lessons as you complete the current assignment and get ready for the next.
- Take on a new hobby or learn a new skill
Reinforce the growth mindset by adopting it in all aspects of your life. Now’s the time to go from “couch potato to 5k,” to plant that vegetable garden you’ve always talked about or to learn another language. Invest and commit your time. Practice the new activity with enthusiasm. And, when you’re panting at mile 1, breathe and remind yourself that it’s just growing pains and continuing to flex the muscles will make it easier tomorrow.
- Create your own diverse cohort
Seek out peers who have different backgrounds and/or perspectives than you. Invite them to share their ideas and to challenge you. When this happens, ask questions, listen and then ask more questions. Use the debate team method and “argue” their side so you can fully explore the other perspective.
- Break down silos
Build collaborative and cross-functional teams. Invite colleagues from other parts of the business to join a project team, to present at a staff meeting, to provide their perspective on a key effort being worked by your group. Drive alignment and commitment to the overarching organization goals.
- Leverage the experts
Your openness in acknowledging that others may know better than you facilitates your own growth mindset while also setting the tone for others. The growth-minded individual leverages resources and seizes the opportunity to learn from others.
- Develop others
Assign challenging responsibilities to your team members, perhaps delegating some components of your leadership role so that you can focus on your own stretch assignment. Encourage your team to stretch and help them learn from both successes and hurdles. Share your own challenges and mistakes as a model for learning and resiliency. Teaching others will reinforce your own growth mindset.
Cultivate a growth mindset using these strategies. Commit to practicing them and you’ll see the impact on your development and effectiveness. There will be successes, there will be challenges. Remember, it’s an infinite learning loop, not a finite process. Listen to your growth mindset, “You’re ready for this! Get, ready, set, GROW!”
Elizabeth De La Peña Veeser
Principal of DLP Coaching
Elizabeth De La Peña Veeser is the Principal of DLP Coaching, a firm dedicated to helping leaders and organizations achieve their greatest potential. Contact her today to explore how she can support your development.