Leaders in successful organizations are interested in fostering an engaged workforce. Engaged employees add value to the organization, as they are creative, committed, and have better performance. But how does one achieve that? What helps employees to stay engaged?
What is Growth Mindset?
There are two types on mindset described in literature: fixed and growth mindsets. Fixed mindset is best described by individual’s beliefs that one’s skills, abilities, and personality traits are static and do not change. These individuals think that personal traits cannot be developed.
Growth mindset, on the other hand, is characterized by individual’s beliefs that skills, abilities, and personality traits can change with perseverance and determination. These individuals believe that hard work, rather than one’s talent, will bring about success. They are able to respond to challenging situations in a healthy way, as these individuals believe they are not defined by their past behaviors and that the process of development is on-going.
As you might have guessed, employees who foster a growth mindset are more successful at work. They are also more satisfied with their work and life, as growth mindset is also linked to resilience. Additionally, those with growth mindsets typically have less stress and anxiety and more self-esteem, and they generally have better physical health. Who wouldn’t want that?
How Does one Change Their Mindset?
An expert and an author on mindset, a psychologist Carol Dweck, provides an in-depth explanation of the growth mindset in her book “Mindset – Changing the Way You Think to Fulfill Your Potential.”
Here are some practical ways to foster growth mindset.
The WSQ-Discovery is a modern psychological instrument, relying on both historically relevant and current psychology research. It is co-authored by Drs. Timothy Johansson, Sr. and Casey Lankow, both psychology professionals trained in counseling psychology. The aim of counseling psychology is not to identify and treat problems, but rather, to join with and assist the client in discovering their identity and endeavors along their own unique personal growth journey.
The tenants of counseling psychology are rooted in traditional Freudian, psychodynamic, and self psychology, while drawing upon the rich theoretical frameworks of positive and social psychology and personality system theory.
Each of these theories, in the common pursuit of facilitating personal growth, espouse the basic view that efforts to gain psychological insight are always in service of the greater purpose: to improve one’s sense of well-being and not merely to reduce the effects of perceived symptoms or socially-defined diagnoses. Humans are not a collection of problems; they are a vital, living tapestry of experiences, opportunities, hopes, and strengths.
Born from these roots of counseling psychology, the WSQ-Discovery intends to provide insight for the purpose of equipping trained professionals who aspire to join with their clients on a journey to improve personal, professional, and relational well-being.
A psychological test is an objective and standardized measurement of sample behavior. Objectivity refers to the consistent manner in which responses are scored. For example, all test-takers who “very strongly disagree” to an item will receive the same raw score for that item regardless of any other demographic information, such as race, religion, age, or orientation.
Secondly, a psychological test’s standardization means that no matter who administers, scores, or interprets the results, there is procedural uniformity. For example, two interpreters should reach very similar conclusions about one individual’s test results.
Third, a test is not a magical or supernatural “X-ray” that reveals otherwise hidden elements of an individual; rather, the test-taker is simply providing a personalized response to a common set of standard items. The uniqueness, therefore, does not lie within the test, but within the individual.
Just as the individual may respond uniquely to a list of standard questions, this same individual also responds uniquely to their ever-changing environment, circumstances, and interpersonal relationships. As such, a test by these standards can be understood to mean any type of objective, standardized observation, not just a questionnaire.
Hence, it is the duty of the practitioner-interpreter to bring about a coherent synthesis between test (standard items) results and their own observations of the individual’s interactions with their environment. The trained professional will not to merely accept one test and dismiss another; the truth is revealed from the synthesis of all relevant test data.
The way in which leaders and managers use their power is a key driver of an organization's culture, and thus, success. By nature of having a title such as "manager" or "supervisor" individuals are granted degrees of power. This is known as positional power, which was introduced as one of the five bases of power in the early 1960s by psychologists John French and Bertram Raven.
Leaders who struggle with the acquisition of power often respond in one of two ways: 1) ignore it and act as if they do not have it or 2) exploit it in abusive or corrupt ways.
Both of these responses negatively impact the workforce. The first leaves staff confused and anxious wondering "who's steering the ship?". Managers who ignore or refuse to accept that they have power, often are not aware of the impact that their words and behaviors have on their staff. Even subtle facial expressions from a person with positional power can change the trajectory of someone's day. Denying that you have power when you have it does more harm than good - especially to those who expect you to use your power to help them succeed.
Interestingly, managers and leaders who express their power through aggressive, abusive behaviors are also often not aware of the actual impact they are having on the organization and its people. These managers are often using their power to control others - as well as gain more power for themselves. This leads to compliance rather than commitment and a workforce that is more concerned about avoiding punishment than they are concerned about doing well.
The goal of managers should be to recognize and leverage their positional power to positively influence and empower their people.
Here are some key steps for reaching this goal:
Own Your Responsibility. Recognize that with your position comes a certain degree of power, and with that is a responsibility to use that power to help your people and the organization succeed. Internalizing this truth is necessary for leaders to effectively employ their power.
Tips: Talk to other leaders about their experience with their positional power. Consider how you perceive the power of your superiors; how do they use that power, and what impact does it have on your behavior?
Understand Your Impact. Having positional power makes your words and actions highly impactful, particularly to your direct reports. Knowing how you affect others allows you to then use yourself as a tool to help others grow and develop - to influence people and the organization.
Tips: Reflect on your behaviors and the reactions of those around you. Ask peers and leaders for feedback on the impact you had in a meeting. Record yourself and then review it, consider how you would respond to you.
Empower Others. Invest significant amounts of energy into developing relationships with your people. Through knowing them and understanding them - and then validating them - you will empower them. Provide staff with the communication, motivation, direction, and approach they need to succeed. As a leader, your success is measured by the success of your team. Do what is needed to help each individual win.
Tips: Make time to regularly meet with each staff. Get to know their personal goals, where do they want to be, and figure out how you can help them get there. Go out of your way to make sure they feel seen and heard. Adjust how you approach each person to provide them with what they need to be successful.
The relationship between leaders and team members is a key driver of individual growth and development. Consider the following concepts and tips regarding development-focused conversations using an assessment report with your team.
Have the right mindset. Whether providing feedback or engaging in a conversation about a team member’s future, your goal must be to be helpful. Having this goal will lead to a positive, constructive outcome. This is absolutely necessary. Have optimism and cultivate a desire to see the other person succeed.
You know you’re in the right mindset if you can answer “yes” to each of the following questions.
Be curious. Before getting right to asking what they learned and what they are going to do differently, take some time to get to know the person better. In order to figure out how to help someone, it is necessary to determine where they want and need to go. Spend at several minutes figuring this out and “setting the stage.” Be curious about THEM. Consider some of the following prompts:
Ask for Specifics. As you start to discuss the reflection and action questions, ask for specific examples around their perception of what they read and learned about themselves. Here are some helpful prompts: