LEADERS ADOPT A LEARNING MINDSET 2022-09-15T01:57:14-04:00


In his most recent monthly newsletter, “Granted,” Wharton professor and psychologist Adam Grant started with these definitions:

Imposter Syndrome: “I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s only a matter of time until everyone finds out.”

Growth Mindset: “I don’t know what I’m doing yet. It’s only a matter of time until I figure it out. “

“The highest form of self-confidence,” as Grant states, “is believing in your ability to learn.”

During the first year of the pandemic, I was fortunate to co-facilitate  a six-week discussion group with first-year students at my alma mater, Georgetown Law  Center.  Ours was one of half a dozen such groups designed to help students cope with the pressures of law school and the unprecedented pandemic that was keeping them at home.

The subject of the law school initiative was imposter syndrome. It was surprising to me that almost every student in our group suffered from this familiar mindset.  I know that I was afflicted by this belief system at numerous points throughout my career.  If we think about the definitions that Adam Grant offers, we realize that one sure way to overcome imposter syndrome is to adopt and maintain a learning mindset.

Carol Dweck wrote the famous book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.”  In that book, she offers numerous examples of how a determination to grow and learn – a growth mindset –  differentiates effective leaders from ineffective leaders.  She points out that the human brain is wired to learn.

If we find ourselves in leadership positions now, we know that others who hired or promoted us have confidence in our abilities to guide teammates and a department or organization. It is critical that others’ confidence in us is mirrored by our confidence in ourselves.

So always ask yourself:

-In what aspects of my job would I like to grow?
-What are my best strategies for learning those job aspects more effectively?
-How can I best measure that growth over time?
-Who do I know, both within and outside my organization, who could serve as good mentors to help me facilitate that growth?
-How can I document my growth for myself and my manager?

As leaders, our unique journeys can be illuminated and facilitated if we adopt an attitude promoting lifelong learning for ourselves and our teammates. Adopting that attitude is a proactive choice we can make every day.

Are you at a point in your leadership journey where you have chosen a learner’s mindset, a commitment to lifelong learning?

If not, I encourage you to think about one step you can take this week to move in the learning mindset direction. I guarantee you it will be worth your while.