A leader's "mindset" may determine success. Mindsets that are characterized by a commitment to growth, flexibility and adaptability continue to develop the leader's brain and develop reservoirs of untapped potential.

The notion of mindset and how it can affect performance is outlined by Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck, in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Dweck argues that everyone has one of two basic mindsets. If you have the "fixed' mindset, you believe that your talents and abilities are fixed or set in stone--either you have them or you don't. This kind of person is driven to prove themselves repeatedly, trying to look successful at all costs. However, this mindset actually leads to stagnation and declining performance.  If you have the second mindset, or "growth" mindset, you know that your talents and abilities are built over time, so you seize every opportunity for growth--and success.

Dweck shows how the growth mindset develops in childhood and early adulthood and drives every aspect of our lives, from work to relationships to parenting. Much of her work is based on brain science which shows that we have "plastic" brains, capable of learning until we die. She describes how creative geniuses in all fields of endeavor, apply their growth mindset to achieve results. Dweck also shows us how we can change our mindset at any age.

In an article in the June 19, 2009, BusinessWeek, John R. Ryan, the President of the Center for Creative Leadership, discusses how we might apply Dueck's ideas to leadership in organizations. He suggests that first, a growth mindset must drive leaders' management of the organization's human talent, focusing on the long-term development of people. Second, Ryan argues that leader's must create an organizational culture that permits risk taking and allows for mistakes, citing Dweck's research that shows that people's fixed mindsets come from early childhood experiences of being judged and criticized for making mistakes. Finally, Ryan argues that leaders all too often rest on their laurels and accomplishments of the past, basing their performance on their ego rather than an attitude of continual learning.

Professor Dweck's mindset research challenges leaders to develop their growth mindset regardless of age and experience, and challenges educators and parents to examine how their are developing growth mindsets in our children.

Ray B. Williams is Co-Founder of Success IQ University and President of Ray Williams Associates, companies located in Phoenix and Vancouver, providing leadership training, personal growth and executive coaching services. www.successiqu.com



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