As I have increased my knowledge of neuroscience and mindset over the past few years and started to further develop my personal leadership practice I have noticed something so simple I had overlooked it for years. As I stopped focusing my attention on changing, improving, directing those out there and instead focused attention on developing and improving my emotional self, things really did start to shift and change and not just slowly but quite quickly.
I also found that the deep learning did not come from books. It came from those around me. As I started to develop and exercise new skills it was the feedback and reflected behaviours that taught me whether I was making progress or I needed to reflect, rethink and try again. My learning came from focusing on the change I wanted to see, putting it into practice, taking the feedback and repeating again and again. Over time progress becomes visible as life around changes shape.
“Be the change you want to see”- Mahatma Gandhi
Within our organisations leadership absolutely need technical skills, capability and intelligence – these are essential basic requirements. However, leadership is so much more than that. The emotional human element cannot be ignored and is not (except for a very few global exceptions) an innate talent.
There is a lot of talk around mindset now. Carol Dweck (2006) has done wondrous work around growth and fixed mindset, and the science of mindset has now reached the business world bringing with it the potential to enhance our adaptability to change and our persistence in the face of challenge. Thanks to modern technological advances, we can actually see for example, how growth mindset contributes to chemical changes in the brain lowering emotional response and increasing long term memory (Mangels et al, 2006).
Books and training courses can and do point us in the right direction, give us frameworks and models to work with but they cannot do the job for us. Unlike normal learning – study, memory, reading – emotional human learning involves a different part of the brain and that part does not learn from study, memory or reading. It learns from focusing the attention, practical application, feedback and reflection over-and-over again, over time.
Leaders lead the way, model the way, set the culture and create the environment in which we all function. The responsibility is huge, both from a performance and a human perspective. The knowledge, learning and language around mindset, emotional intelligence and employee engagement are critical for the health and wellbeing of our organisations and all of us who work within our organisations.
Mindset is no fad and neither is the work on emotional intelligence and engagement. The theory is available to us and we now have a language we can use to communicate and work with. It is not difficult to start moving the dials once the understanding is there. It takes focused attention, practical application, feedback and reflection over-and-over again, over time. Whilst the learning is indeed a life long journey it is worth it for the difference it makes not only in work but also in life.
Deborah Hulme, Founder, Minerva Engagement
Mastering Mindset is one of the five modules in our Evolve for Change Programme designed to equip leaders and managers with the skills required to adapt and thrive in a changing environment. Ask us for more details or view our Bitesize Insight into Mindset here.
References and further reading
Dweck C.S, 2006: Mindset – Updated Edition: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential
Mangels J.A., Butterfield, B., Lamb J., Good C., Dweck C.S., 2006: Why do beliefs about intelligence influence learning success? A social cognitive neuroscience model. Oxford University Press