It has been said that leaders are learners, but not everyone in that role is willing to put in the effort it takes to become a better learner. A leader may believe they understand everything they need to know to do their job and to get others to do theirs. However, this type of thinking will limit how far a leader can go and take their team. They have what psychologist Carol Dweck calls a fixed mindset. Such a person may be very talented, and they believe their talent will get them through life, not needing to put in much effort to improve.
Talent alone will not sustain you
I have seen very talented people who start their careers well. People follow them because they appear to be someone who will go far. They might be like King Saul, who was taller than everyone else around him, was handsome, exhibited a charismatic personality, and was a talented leader that people were proud to call their king. God placed him on the throne because the Israelites wanted a king to rule over them just because that is what every other nation had and they didn’t want to be different. God gave them what they desired, although King Saul’s legacy would not be one that others would want to emulate as he allowed his personal issues to keep him from growing in his leadership abilities.
One can see many examples of talented people who failed because they relied on their giftedness alone. It’s evident that talent will not sustain anyone forever. That is why we need to improve our skills and become better at those things that are important to us. But one might argue that each of us only has a certain level of intelligence, and we cannot improve on that (although most of us think we are more intelligent than we actually are). I know scholars can’t agree if one can increase their IQ or not, but that is not what we are discussing. Even if you can’t raise your IQ, you can still improve your understanding of any topic. Those of us with a lower IQ take longer to learn a given subject, and we may not gain as much knowledge as those with a higher IQ, but each of us can always learn more. Great leaders understand this and apply it. This mentality is what Dweck refers to as having a growth mindset.
People with a growth mindset understand that using their natural abilities is only the beginning and they need to add knowledge on a regular basis. They believe they can retrain their brains and rewire the neuron pathways throughout their lives, which allows them to make the necessary changes to expand their abilities and people skills.
What about you?
Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? What are you doing to increase the knowledge you need to be better at your job or relationships? Do you apply what you learn? In what areas of your life do you feel stuck and don’t believe you can change?
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