Developing A Leadership Mindset

“You can change your mindset”

~Carol S. Dweck – Mindset, The New Psychology of Success

In her highly acclaimed and recommended book Mindset , Carol S. Dweck lays out four foundational statements to gauge whether you have a fixed-mindset or a growth mindset.

Here are the statements ( Answer T  or F to each one):

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
  2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are,
  3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a bit.
  4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

Statements 1 and 2 are fixed-mindset statements. Statements 3 and 4 reflect the growth mindset. “Which did you agree with more? You can be a mixture, but most people lean toward one or the other,” states Dweck.

Over the years I have come to know that leaders have a mindset that sets them up for success or failure even before that leadership journey begins.

The mindset you embrace sets the tone for your leadership style, success, and the influence you will have. What mindsets or characteristics will hold you back? Which ones will cause you to succeed? Here are a few.

The mindset of your attitude

In leadership, your attitude is your best friend or worst enemy. It’s one of the most contagious characteristics of your leadership style. It will cause people to rally around you and your vision or it will turn them away. The attitude mindset of the leader will be the benchmark for the rest of the organization. You can’t expect the attitude of your people to be good if the one you showcase is bad. Eventually, you will have to change your attitude or your people will change their address. (I wrote about attitude in the workplace here).

What kind of attitude are you projecting? Do you only focus on the negative? Do you only see what your people are doing wrong as opposed to what they do well? How does your attitude inspire, encourage, and motivate your colleagues? Is your attitude worthy of emulating?

The mindset of your perceptions

One of the basic foundational leadership lessons I learned many years ago from John Maxwell was in how he sees other people. Maxwell said he always looked at people and saw a “10”. It was his way of helping others get in touch with their potential and set them up for growth and success. Were all of the people he labeled as a  “10” truly a 10? Of course not. But the perception he put into play was one that emphasized unlimited growth and possibility in the people he believed in–even when they may have only been a 4, 5, or a 6 in reality.

What are the perceptions of the people you lead? Do you instill confidence in your people that reflects a 10 even though they may only be a 5? If known by your people would your perceptions give them reason to be optimistic or discouraged? What changes do you need to make in your perceptions of other people or personal changes that would cause you to be a better leader in general?

The mindset of your personal growth and development

Every successful leader I know has one thing in common- they never stop growing.The older I get the more I realize how much I don’t know which is humbling. (I wrote about the things I wish I had known years ago about leadership here). You can have a fixed-growth mindset that Dweck writes about or you can have a growth mindset that will make all the difference in the world to your leadership. The mindset you choose, feed, and nurture is the one that will win out at the end of the day.

What are you doing on a daily basis that contributes to a growth mindset? As a whole, does your organization have a fixed-mindset or a growth mindset? What fixed-growth mindsets do you struggle with the most? What changes do you need to make to develop a growth mindset?

Developing a growth centered leadership mindset is the beginning of a leadership journey that begins by believing it is possible.


Doug Dickerson
Doug Dickerson
DOUG has been speaking to audiences in the U.S. and overseas for more than 30 years. Doug knows how to spin a story, make you laugh, and how to challenge your traditional ways of thinking about leadership. Most of all, Doug is committed to helping you grow as a leader. Doug is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida and studied Clinical Pastoral Education at Palmetto Baptist Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. While his leadership expertise has its roots in ministry and teaching. His background also includes public relations and business. Doug understands the necessity of leadership development and why creating a leadership culture in your organization is critical to your success. He is the author of four leadership books including: Leaders Without Borders, 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders, Great Leaders Wanted, It Only Takes a Minute: Daily Inspiration for Leaders on the Move, and Leadership by the Numbers. As a speaker, Doug delivers practical and applicable leadership insights with a dose of humor and authenticity that endears him to a wide range of audiences. Doug is a John Maxwell Team member.

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  1. Doug, Thanks for your insights. Our assumptions about our capabilities, our situation and our alternatives shape our reality. Helping people see new opportunities is critical to deal with accelerating change.
    The term mindsets can also be used to represent the lens we adopt to collect or discount data. We can avoid pitfalls when we widen our lens.