One of my favorite speakers at this year’s Global Leadership Summit was Dr. Heidi Grant. Dr. Grant is a social psychologist who researches, writes, and speaks about the science of leadership. She is the Director of Research and Development for EY Americas Learning, and Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at Columbia University. She is the author of many best-selling books including her most recent release, Reinforcements: How To Get People To Help You.

I’ve written previously about the power of your thoughts and your mindset. Dr. Grant shared 3 strategies to change your mindset:

  1. Notice, then shift.
    • Notice: “I’m not good at this” “I don’t think I can” “This isn’t easy for me”
    • These cause anxiety, feelings of hopelessness
    • SHIFT: “I’m not good at this YET.”
    • Adding that one word changes your mindset from failure to learning, from discouragement to hope.
  2. Change your language.
    • Think growth mindset priming words: grow, progress, improve, become, develop, over time
    • Words matter, especially the words we speak to and over ourselves in our minds.
  3. Focus on progress.
    • The rule of three:
      • Where were you?
      • Where are you now?
      • Where do you want to be?

Growth mindset thinking is contagious.(This is KEY! Who wouldn’t want this to spread among their team, department, company, or organization?)

How do you encourage growth mindset thinking in your team?

  • Draw attention to your mistakes (this gives others the freedom to acknowledge theirs – leaders lead the way with this as with most everything!)
  • Share stories of your past challenges (this eliminates the “leaders always get it right and never struggle” myth)
  • Focus on and reward when people make progress over perfection – celebrate improvement! (celebrating your wins is one of the greatest tools a leader can add to their toolbox)

This was a very practical and helpful session. I’m going to be checking out Dr. Grant’s new book, and if you’re interested in the power of a growth mindset, I’d also recommend Dr. Carol Dweck (her dissertation advisor)’s great book, Mindset. It’s an outstanding treatment of this subject, and well worth your time.


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