Mindset Of The Leader – Part 2

Mindset Of The Leader – Part 2

Written by: Cahide Akkuzu

Reading time: 6 minutes

I started Part 1 of this article by saying that your attitude towards yourself can be your biggest friend or your foe. Read Part 1 by clicking:


Based on the research of Stanford professor Carol Dweck, I described two main attitudes that have a major impact on our success: “Fixed Mindset” and “Growth Mindset”. Let us briefly look at the differences between these two mindsets.

Effort – When faced with hard work, “fixed mindset” people may hand over the hard tasks to others, so they themselves spend as little effort as possible on these hard tasks. People with a growth mindset, on the other side, believe that effort is required to gain competence, specialize, or progress on a topic and see this effort as a natural part of the process. In order to master a new task, one usually needs to apply energy, whether mental, physical or simply by using repetition over time.

Challenge – “Fixed mindset” people shy away from challenges, possibly from fear of failure and may go into hiding as a way to avoid responsibilities. On the other hand, the “growth mindset” people find challenges to be exciting and engaging, knowing that they will learn something valuable from these experiences. They “stick to it,” mastering the challenge, and then are able to move on to ever greater accomplishments.

Mistakes and Feedback – People with fixed mindsets find it embarrassing to make mistakes. They may blame others or be defensive when criticized. On the other hand,  “growth mindset” people will see mistakes as a lesson to learn from and will be less likely to take criticism personally. Being open to criticism can help improve one’s ability to do better the next time, which is another reason why a growth mindset can lead to success.

People with fixed mindsets choose to continue to be good at what they are good at -without risking anything- and they choose to continue to prove their existing talent -in the same way- and to remain in their comfort zone. Staying within your comfort zone feels fluent, but it inhibits growth. That’s how the comforts of fixed mindset can keep us stuck in place — we avoid the stretch goal, we miss out on important growth opportunities, we avoid taking on a challenging goal or avoid a sensitive conversation that would enable growth. Whereas, growth mindset asks you to become an expert in leaving your comfort zone, over and over again. If it feels uncomfortable, you’re most likely doing it right.

We can and must change the attitude we have towards ourselves! To realize our true potential, to thrive, to lead ourselves, to lead all those around us in the way they deserve to be lead, and to enable those we value to realize their true potential, we must start by changing our attitude towards ourselves!

We all display both fixed and growth mindset characteristics in our daily lives. We now know that for change and development, we first need to be aware of our attitude towards ourselves, we need to be aware of our mindset. Let’s say, you become aware that you have a fixed mindset on a specific subject, your thoughts and approach on that specific topic or in that part of your life point toward fixed mindset characteristics as described. First thing to do is to accept that this is a normal situation. Who would not want to show their already existing talent? The good news is, now you have the opportunity to choose how you will approach this situation. Now, you have the option to make a different choice and focus on your progress! Although it is difficult to break habits, you can do this if you approach yourself with tolerance and show patience while moving along this path. Remind yourself of your true purpose. Is your aim to prove yourself to others and potentially be stuck, or is it to grow and progress?

It is possible to transform our mindset from a fixed one to a growth mindset, and we can start with small steps. There can be many ways to do this, I want to share the ones I find valuable:

  1. Make peace with both your own flaws and those of others! Our imperfections make us unique. We are missing life with our desire to make everything 100% perfect. Many of us fail to make progress because we fear failure and want to get everything 100% correct. Take small steps to try new ways instead of doing it 100% right.
  2. Be curious! Ask more questions, inquire more. Learn about other people’s experiences with curiosity and focus on what you can learn from them. Learn from the successes and mistakes of others.
  3. Instead of waiting for others to approve you, accept and embrace yourself as you are, trust your authentic personality! Cultivate self-acceptanceand self-approval.  If you pretend to be someone you are not, you will be disrespectful to the person you are and miss your true potential.
  4. Pay attention to your thoughts and words! Use words that are more positive and that develop your potential, both with your inner voice and when talking to others. The famous words of the English writer Charles Reade offer a wonderful explanation: “Mind your thoughts for they become your words; mind your words for they become your actions; mind your actions for they become your habits; mind your habits for they become your character; mind your character for it becomes your destiny.”
  5. See the obstacles and challenges you face as opportunities to improve yourself! You may feel anxiety or even fear about how you will overcome these obstacles. Try to see the situation from other point of views, change your perspective. One of the most useful perspectives is to interpret the issue by saying ‘not yet’. You may have not yet learned a competence, you may have not yet overcome an obstacle, you may have not yet overcome a challenge, and all these situations are temporary. Try different strategies to overcome obstacles, make use of your experiences, try again, and you will see that you will make progress as you continue to show effort. Increase your courage and determination!
  6. Care more about effort than skill. We all have strengths as well as areas in which there is room for improvement. Learn to recognize your strengths and use them more effectively. Use your strengths to build your growth mindset.
  7. Learn more about research on brain plasticity. Our brains are not fixed, we can decide for ourselves who and what we want to be and become a version of ourselves that we wish to become. The same is true for mindset. Our brain, just like many parts of our body, is a muscle that needs to be exercised. Click to read the article I wrote about research results on brain plasticity: https://www.contextprofessionals.com/en/how-can-leaders-take-a-critical-look-at-themselves-part-2/
  8. Change your point of view about criticism! Try to understand other people’s point of view. It is not easy to accept criticism. Turn criticism around until you find its gift. If there was just %1 truth in the criticism that you received, what could that be? Think about how you can use criticism to improve yourself, be open to suggestions! How would you criticize yourself? One of the most important features of the growth mindset is that one can make constructive criticism on oneself!
  9. One of the most important ways to build a growth mindset is to ask for feedback. Ask for feedback from your close friends, family members, managers and colleagues! They view things from a different perspective than you do. Find out about their perspectives. When asking for feedback, be as specific as possible, state what you want feedback on, state your purpose, ask for details and examples about the feedback they give. See yourself through their eyes.
  10. Pay more attention to the process than the result! The focus of people with a growth mindset is not the result, but instead they try to enjoy the process. What matters is the journey! Focusing on the process often improves results as well, effort is more important than speed. Be realistic, learning something new, getting out of your comfort zone, building a new habit, all these take time. Trial and error, making mistakes and learning from those mistakes are a natural part of the process.
  11. Look at failure in a different way! Treat failure as an opportunity to learn! Do not do yourself injustice by attributing a specific failure related to a specific situation to your whole personality! Try not to take yourself too seriously, even take small risks around others. Don’t hesitate to experience a failure or make a mistake in the presence of others, over time you will become very comfortable!
  12. Set yourself a purpose! Carol Dweck’s research has shown that people with a growth mindset have a life purpose. Let contributing to the success of others be part of your life purpose! People with a growth mindset like to see other people succeed. People who are genuinely happy and excited on behalf of others inadvertently attract success. People cannot get what they envy. Therefore, help others to be successful and become part of their success stories!
  13. Celebrate growth and success! Notice your progress and celebrate with others! When you include others in your processes, you will keep yourself on track and you will be motivated when things get tough, and you will enjoy celebrating your achievements together. You will also inspire and encourage others in this sense! Always take time to reflect on your success and to celebrate it. We all often start to deal with the next thing without realizing how hard we have worked. When you are ready, move on to your next goal.
  14. As you complete each goal, make sure you set new goals for yourself! Never stop learning and improving, let new goals be part of your lifestyle! People with a growth mindset know that they must constantly set new goals for themselves to realize their true potential.

We are all leaders. As a leader, we do not necessarily have to have a big title. Anyone who is driving a process to achieve an objective is a leader. We are a leader as long as we take the responsibility to actively create our own world, environment and dynamics, by consciously choosing our own attitude, behavior and actions. The important thing in this process, our path to growth and learning, our path to success is our mindset!

As a leader, what kind of growth goal do you set for yourself? This can apply to any area of your life. What would you like to do better? In what areas of your life would you dare to leave your comfort zone, even if a little? If you do have some growth goals; how do you keep yourself on track to progress patiently? What will you do when you stumble or get stuck during the learning process? Will you get up and try again, or will you give up? Are you ready to grow into and show your true potential? How will you feel about yourself when you make progress towards your goals? How will you benefit from this, and how will others benefit from your growth? I leave you and myself with these questions!

In part 3 we will be looking at how you can create your growth mindset as a person in a leadership position. We will also be looking at how you can create a growth mindset in your team and the organization that you lead.

Context Professionals Corporate Coaching and Consulting



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