Why You Need a Strategic Mindset

Why you need a strategic mindset

What if you could work smarter not harder and still succeed? New research from psychologists at Singapore University reveals that a strategic mindset can help direct your efforts more effectively and increase success in multiple areas of life.

Your last challenge

Think about the last time you took on a challenge or set yourself an important goal. How did you tackle it? Did you dive in enthusiastically, excited to get started but without much of a plan? Maybe you spent time planning and monitoring, using review points along the way to help you work more efficiently? If you routinely plan and review, it’s likely you’re already reaping the successes of a strategic mindset. If you’re not one to spend time refining strategy, the good news is you can increase your success by learning to cultivate a strategic mindset and here’s how.

Three questions you need to ask

Lead researcher, Patricia Chen, and her team assessed strategic mindset by asking how often 860 participants utilised these strategy-eliciting questions when faced with a challenge:

  • “What can I do to help myself?”
  • “How else can I do this?”
  • “Is there a way to do this even better?”

Growth Mindset at Work regulars won’t be surprised to learn that Patricia Chen is a former student of Carol Dweck. The research was done in collaboration with psychologists at Stanford University. Although growth mindset theory has already demonstrated the importance of analysing and learning from failures to achieve success, Chen’s research is exciting because it throws a spotlight on why some people use their strategies more than others at the right time. The research showed that participants with a highly strategic mindset utilised the three questions most of the time. Higher performance was linked to the use of these questions for educational and professional goals.

Successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople routinely use a strategic mindset. Think Elon Musk’s commencement speech at the USC where he advised, “focus on signal over noise, don’t waste time on something that doesn’t make things better.” They’re experts when it comes to analysing performance, pivoting in new directions and refining ways of working to achieve progress quickly and efficiently. In other blogs, we’ve also examined how companies successfully utilise a strategic mindset approach when managing failures. Carol Dweck explains,

“There are key points in any challenging pursuit that require people to step back and come up with new strategies. A strategic mindset helps them do just that.”

Can you learn a strategic mindset?

Chen’s research found that this mindset can be taught. Chen’s team randomly assigned participants to learn about strategic mindset in a training session. They were then assigned a challenge and asked to complete it as quickly as possible. Compared to other people in the study who didn’t receive the mindset training session, the strategic mindsets learners were quicker at completing the task, practised the task more before performing it (whilst being timed) and applied more effective strategies.

Assessing your strategic mindset

You can assess your own level of strategic mindset by answering the following questions that Chen and her team used, rating your responses on a scale from 1 (never) to 5 (all the time). The higher your score, the more strategic your mindset:

  • When you are stuck on something, how often do you ask yourself: “What are things I can do to help myself?”
  • Whenever you feel like you are not making progress, how often do you ask yourself: “Is there a better way of doing this?”
  • Whenever you feel frustrated with something, how often do you ask yourself: “How can I do this better?”
  • In moments when you feel challenged, how often do you ask yourself: “What are things I can do to make myself better at this?”
  • When you are struggling with something, how often do you ask yourself: “What can I do to help myself?”
  • Whenever something feels difficult, how often do you ask yourself: “What can I do to get better at this?”

Chen and Dweck continue to research the best ways for young people and adults to adopt this strategic way of thinking. In the meantime, routinely using the above questions to analyse your performance is a great place to start.

Want to discover more about growth mindset? Try our free Introduction to Growth Mindset Course.

Growth Mindset at Work provides practical strategies and tools to take your performance to the next level. Take a deep dive into all aspects of growth mindset with us and develop your business with our consultancy, online programs or a bespoke program, delivered virtually to your team, find out more now.

Managing a fixed mindset manager

tips to manage a fixed mindset manager
managing a fixed mindset manager
Be a growth mindset jedi with our ten tips

Ten tips to help you manage a fixed mindset manager

When talking with companies about growth mindset I’m often asked “But how can I implement a growth mindset effectively when my manager has a fixed mindset?” It’s an awkward question that will resonate with many. So here are my top ten tips to deploy when managing a fixed mindset manager or colleague.

1.Be strategic.  In many organisations, it’s often the case that people are promoted to management positions without any training on how to develop effective leadership and management techniques. It may be the case that your manager knows little about growth mindset and the benefits that it can have for not only themselves, but also the team and organisational performance but how do you enlighten them without appearing critical? Be strategic and think about what really ignites your manager’s passions, are they a sports fan, fanatical about racing cars or a science junky? Look for examples of a growth mindset approach that will resonate with them. Maybe your manager loves football and is a huge Ronaldo fan? Drop into your conversation how a former coach describes Ronaldo’s growth mindset,

“I have always spent time with players on free-kicks but with Ronaldo we worked for days and days. We practised every day. There’s nobody who’s prepared to work harder for his artistry.”

Basketball fan? Quote LeBron James on mindset,

“Don’t be afraid of failure, this is how we succeed.”

2. Talk about growth mindset culture in other organisations. Use conversations about the success of other organisations as an opportunity to include snippets of information on the growth mindset approach and how these organisations have used a growth mindset to their competitive advantage. Talk about companies like Google, Microsoft and Quest and the programs they implement to encourage a growth mindset.

3. Link a growth mindset to the bottom line. You’re manager tells you, “this growth mindset fad is fine but it’s the bottom line that counts.” Tell your manager how astute they are and then point out that Carol Dweck, the Stanford professor responsible for the international bestseller ‘Mindset: the new psychology of Success’, has addressed this very question, Dweck explains that whenever we apply a growth mindset approach outcomes undoubtedly matter. If effort is unproductive we need to examine how we can more deeply engage in the process perhaps by seeking help from others, trying new strategies or capitalising on setbacks to propel us forwards. Dweck recommends paying equal attention to learning and progress, as well as rewarding effort, which people often more readily associate with encouraging a growth mindset. As Dweck says, growth mindset is all about the bottom line.

4. Explain mindset is a spectrum and discuss your own fixed mindset triggers. You’re manager explains “I’ve always had a 100% growth mindset, that’s why I’m so successful.” Take a deep breath. The next time growth mindset comes up in conversation, tell your manager that you’ve recently read an interesting article on false growth mindset. Without reminding your manager abut their claim, explain how mindset is a spectrum and although we might make a conscious effort to adopt a growth mindset approach, there will always be certain triggers that can push us towards a fixed mindset. Explain how you monitor your own thoughts to try and capture what triggers a fixed mindset for you at work and mention what you’ve done to successfully overcome these fixed mindset triggers.

5. Describe how a growth mindset has contributed to team success. Take a growth mindset approach to the situation and focus on highlighting all the effective ways in which your team tackles challenges with a growth mindset. Whenever you’re talking to your manager about the great work your team has been doing, make sure that you include the positive effects a growth mindset approach has had on motivation, perseverance and the success of your team.

6. Inspire your team to work across the organisation, sharing their skills and expertise for organisational success. Encourage your team to promote the benefits of a growth mindset approach when working with others, when there are more people enthusiastically championing a growth mindset to the organisation’s vision and goals it becomes harder for those with a fixed mindset approach towards their work to ignore the message.

7. Encourage others to share growth mindset strategies and success stories. Foster wider growth mindset habits within the organisation by encouraging other teams to share growth mindset strategies, ideas, information and success stories. Make sure that your manager is kept in the loop of this growth mindset progress.

8. Emphasise perseverance. When your manager compliments you on the great results and outcomes that your team has achieved make sure you highlight the effort, hard work and perseverance that contributed to the team’s fantastic outcomes.

9. Expose your manager to a growth mindset at every opportunity. Whenever you watch a video, read a great article, or hear of another business that is working towards becoming a growth mindset organisation, share the information with your manager and if you have time, summarise the contents to expose them to more and more growth mindset examples. When your manager sees the social proof of so many other businesses benefiting from a growth mindset, they may start to shift their position and approach.

10. Maintain a growth mindset towards your manager. Finally, it may sound obvious, but maintain a growth mindset towards your fixed mindset manager! Just because they hold a predominantly fixed mindset towards their role at the moment it doesn’t mean that this will always be the case. There are plenty of examples of people who once approached their job, their education, their beliefs about intelligence (including Carol Dweck) or their relationships in a fixed mindset way, only to realise that they could improve their approach and their outcomes by adopting a growth mindset.

Want to grow your business? Growth Mindset at Work provides practical strategies and tools to take your performance to the next level. Take a deep dive into all aspects of growth mindset with us and develop your business with our consultancy, online programs or a bespoke program, delivered virtually to your team, find out more now.