Leader Mindsets #2

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

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Would you believe me if I told you that watching a 3-minute video designed to shape your mindsets can significantly alter your well-being and performance?

Crum, Salovey, and Achor (2013) conducted an experiment where they showed one group of employees a stress-is-enhancing video for three minutes, and another group of employees a stress-is-debilitating video for three minutes. Remarkably, those that were shown the stress-is-enhancing video reported fewer negative health symptoms and higher levels of engagement and performance over the following week.


One point being: small interventions meant to improve our mindsets can have huge positive effects.

While this information is important for everyone, what I am finding in my research is that mindsets are even more important for leaders. I say this for three reasons:

First, leaders are in a position of influence. Thus, their thinking, development, behavior, and performance (all the things that our mindsets fuel) not only impacts them personally, but it affects everyone they lead.

Second, I recently conducted a series of interviews where I asked four leaders about their mindsets, and then I interviewed each of the leaders’ subordinates, asking them about their leaders’ mindsets. One of my primary findings is that subordinates can easily and accurately identify the mindsets of their leaders. This leads to the third reason.

Third, subordinates do not just respond to what their leaders do, but they also respond to the mindsets behind their leader’s behaviors.

Until my blog posts, you have probably given little thought to the importance of mindsets to your personal success and leadership. But, I hope you now realize that:

  • Mindsets are foundational to your success.

  • If you want to meaningfully improve as a leader, you must diagnose and improve your mindsets.

  • If you do not have healthy mindsets, those around you know it, and they respond just as much to your mindsets as they do your behaviors. Stated differently, those you lead care more about who you are than what you do.

Let me give you a quick example. In one of the workgroups where I conducted interviews, most of the subordinates of one manager said that their manager had a mindset that was essentially: “I know what we need to do,” or “I am the expert here.” This mindset closed him off from the ideas and suggestions of his subordinates. Recognizing this, the subordinates felt unsafe about expressing their ideas and opinions in front of their manager, which negatively affected the subordinates’ moral and likely the effectiveness of the entire workgroup.

What do you think? Do you feel like you can easily and accurately identify the mindset of your manager and leaders? And, how does that affect you? Comment below

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