Does it ever occur you to think why some managers are better coaches than others? To understand how this works, you first have to understand something called the Growth Mindset. Professor Carol Dweck’s findings on people’s approach to learning and intelligence. She found that a person has one of the two mindsets, fixed or growth mindset when they approach learning.
Those with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is a fixed trait that can’t be changed. They spend their time showing and channelling their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. However, those with growth mindsets believe intelligence can grow through a process of development and hard work.
Growth Mindset at Work
What connection does it have with coaching you might ask? If you are someone with a fixed mindset and don’t believe that intelligence can be improved you wouldn’t take the learning process seriously. Researchers Jeffery Pfeffer and Robert Sutton, in their book Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense, assert that people who see intelligence as fixed tend to see performance as a measure of their abilities, whereas people with a growth mindset see poor performance as an opportunity to apply more effort or learning to that area.
Managers with this fixed mindset are less likely to try and help their employees through coaching—no matter what they may be asked to do.
Researchers found that managers with a fixed mindset who attended workshops illustrating how people can grow and change were more willing to coach, and the quality of their coaching improved. So, it appears that coaching can be encouraged if you first convince managers it has the potential to make a difference.
With the knowledge of Dweck’s growth mindset, managers can be approached at a workplace in different ways to maximize the chances of them in taking learning seriously and to become effective coaches for their team. What can be done?
- One-on-One Meeting: By discussing how managers at your workplace perceive and view learning it is possible to gauge their mindset.
- Invest in Development: Whether you have fixed or growth minded leaders, investing in efforts that reinforce how performance and intelligence grow through learning and development will make them more willing to coach and to invest time in their own self-development.
- Behavioral Assessment: Behavioral assessments can be done to understand the management and learning styles of the managers and employees. This information will help each person better understand how to interact with the others and provide a tangible action plan to develop the behaviors that will set them up for success.
- Other small ideas:
- Embrace the idea and word “YET”
- Develop and use growth mindset statements with staff consistently as part of work culture.
- Make the connection between “process” and “achievement” in your feedback.
- Incorporate growth mindset activities.
- Emphasize learning as a process.
- Highlight mistakes as an opportunity for learning.
What do you think of the concept of a growth versus fixed mindset? Can you see it in your managers?
Get enrolled in one of our coaching programs that supports the “growth mindset” view the program schedule to choose.