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How Can You Get A Leopard To Change It’s Spots

How Can You Get A Leopard To Change It’s Spots

Imagine that you’ve just completed a project at work. Your supervisor tells you that you didn’t deliver things exactly the way he wants, and he asks you to redo the project.

For some people, this would be cause for a meltdown, but you take it in stride. You go back to your desk, digest what was just said,and assess the work you put into the project. Instead of having a pity party, you make a commitment to improve the quality of your work.

A colleague who was in the meeting where you presented stops by your desk and says, ” We can’t be good at everything. This task might be outside of your area of expertise. You should play to your strengths and let someone with more talent in this area handle these types of assignments. ”

Your colleague may have been trying to make you feel better, but she made you wonder, “How can I become better if I never try new things? Are all of our talents assigned to us from birth?”

There are two kinds of people in this world

    There are those who create the life they love, and those who feel that life happens to them. That seemingly small difference in perspective can have major impacts on the way that you live your life.[1]

    People who work to build the life that they want make choices to propel themselves forward. Those who let life happen to them assume a victim mentality that prevents them from getting ahead. Having the right mindset is the key to success.

    Thinking back to the scenario from the beginning, there are two ways you could view that feedback from the boss. If you have a growth mindset, you won’t take the feedback personally. You’ll use it to grow, and you’ll take the negative comments from your coworker with a grain of salt.

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    On the other hand, the colleague who seems to believe that some people are just more capable than others will have a harder time when facing criticism. That person is more likely to accept defeat, and feels that her destiny is out of her control. If given the same feedback, she would probably just throw in the towel.

    The difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset

    You may have intuitively picked up on the different types of people, but there’s actually some scholarship behind this as well. Carol S. Dweck developed mindset theory to explain how our perceptions about the world shape our reality.[2]

    Fixed mindsets can be detrimental to a person’s success

    A person with a fixed mindset avoids challenges, quits before they should, doesn’t think effort is valuable, and can’t take feedback.

    People with fixed mindsets can be successful, but they tend to reach their limits sooner than people with a growth mindset. They always fall short of their potential because they aren’t willing to go out on a limb. They’ll say and think things like, “I’ll never be that good,” or “I’m no good at that, so I’ll ask someone else to do it instead.” “I’ve never been able to do this, and nothing can make me better.”

    When someone with a fixed mindset is confronted with failure, they take it personally. They tie success so closely with their identity that it’s hard for them to hear constructive criticism. In their minds, “That could be better,” translates to, “You aren’t good enough.” They learn to be helpless, and it keeps them from achieving.[3]

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          Some think you’re born with it, and some know you work hard

          One of the key tenets of Dweck’s theory is that some people believe that they have inborn talents, while others know that you grow your skills.

          People with a growth mindset feel just the opposite. They know that they are always capable of learning new things. When you have a growth mindset, you don’t worry so much about failure because you know that making mistakes is a part of learning. You know that you can always change course or get more training.

          This is not to say that people with a growth mindset can’t feel the sting of failure. It just means that the failure doesn’t ultimately define them.

          Your experience shapes your mindset

          The development of fixed and growth mindsets starts at a young age. When a teacher says to a child, “You did well because you’re smart,” the child cannot own their success. It was not their effort, but their innate ability that got them ahead. This leads to a fixed mindset.[4]

          On the other hand, when a teacher says to a student, “You did so well on your project because you tried hard,” it has a different effect. The student attributes success to the amount of effort that they put into their work.

          How people with fixed mindsets can affect you?

          Being surrounded by the negativity of a fixed mindset can take its toll on you. You may have noticed one or more of these signs of a fixed mindset in your day-to-day interactions with others.

            When people believe that they just are the way they are, it makes them risk-averse. They avoid challenges because the cost of failure is too high.

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              People with fixed mindsets tend to be jealous when others get ahead in life because they feel that the other person was simply given more at birth.[5]

                When you’re stuck in your ways, the last thing you want is someone trying to change things for you. That’s why people with a fixed mindset often ignore advice. When they do take it to heart, it might hurt their feelings.

                  People with fixed mindsets don’t believe that you can get ahead by working hard. As a result, they may ridicule people who genuinely want to improve.[6]

                    Don’t get trapped by people with fixed mindsets

                    Dealing with people with fixed mindsets can be tough. In some cases, you can easily remove yourself from the situation. If your friend has a toxic, fixed mindset, you can choose to part ways with them. You can’t always cut people out of your life, though.

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                    Your coworkers, family members, and close friends may also possess fixed mindsets. You can’t necessarily fire your coworkers, and you may choose not to speak to your family, but many of us choose to love our families and friends in spite of their flawed thinking.

                    Sometimes you have to deal with the person who lacks a growth mindset. Here’s how:

                    1. When you argue with them, stick to the facts and avoid making your comment personal

                    They’re already going to take your suggestions personally. Securing your argument with facts keeps them more emotion-neutral. Avoid saying, “I think it’s better if…” You’re asserting your opinion and making it personal. Remove this sentence from your responses to keep them from getting offended. Control your emotions is crucial too. They may get frustrated when you try to offer advice. Don’t get emotional and fire back an angry retort. Say what you need to say, and then leave them to think. Give them time to digest what you’ve said. If they feel you’re right, this could alter how they think.

                    2. Stop trying to fix them. 

                    Since they have a fixed mindset, trying to change their mind won’t work. They only listen to themselves, so it’s better to offer them options secured with facts like what we stated above. You have to make it seem like it’s their idea, or it won’t work.

                    3. Keep your laser-like focus and keep track of your goal

                    Know what you need to do, and avoid being dragged down by their mindset. They may try to discourage you from doing something because they don’t believe that change is possible. You have a growth mindset, which means that you can see things in ways that they can’t. Keep track of your goals. Being surrounded by people who do not believe in the power of working hard can rob you of your motivation. Having your goals written will help you stick to them.

                    4. Surround yourself with people with a growth mindset.

                    Whenever possible, try to find others who share your belief in the power of learning and effort. Don’t worry about your group becoming narrow-minded. People with growth mindsets are naturally open to discussing topics and accepting criticism. You will continue to improve together.

                    They may have been raised with a fixed mindset, or they might have learned to be helpless in school. It’s up to you to recognize fixed mindsets and constantly strive for your own growth. Don’t give anyone the power to keep you from your dreams.

                    Reference

                    More by this author

                    Brian Lee

                    Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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                    Last Updated on March 15, 2019

                    How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

                    How to Be a Leader Who Is Inspiring and Influential

                    When I began managing people 15 years ago, I thought having a fancy title was synonymous with influence. Over time, I learned that power is conferred based on likeability, authenticity, courage, relationships and consistent behavior. When leaders cultivate these attributes, they earn power, which really means influence.

                    Understanding influence is essential to professional growth, and companies rise and fall based on the quality of their leadership.

                    In this article, we will look into the essentials of effective leadership and how to be a leader who is inspiring and influential.

                    What Makes a Leader Fail?

                    A host of factors influence a leader’s ability to succeed. To the extent that leaders fail to outline a compelling vision and strategy, they risk losing the trust and confidence of their teams. Employees want to know where a company is going and the strategy for how they will get there. Having this information enables employees to feel safe, and it allows them to see mistakes as part of the learning journey versus as fatal occurrences.

                    If employees and customers do not believe a company’s leadership is authentic and inspiring, they may disengage, or they may be less inclined to offer constructive criticism that can help a company innovate or help a leader improve.

                    And it is not just the leadership at the top that matters. Middle managers play a distinct role in guiding teams. Depending on the company’s size, employees may have more access to mid-level managers than they do members of the C-suite, meaning their supervisors and managers have greater influence on the employee and the customer experience.

                    What Is Effective Leadership?

                    Effective leadership is inspiring, and it is influential. Cultivating inspiring and influential leaders requires building relationships across the company.

                    Leaders must be connected to both the teams they lead as well as to their own colleagues and managers. This is key as titles do not make a person a leader, nor do they automatically confer influence. These are earned through trusting relationships. This explains why some leaders can get more out of their teams than others and why some leaders experience soaring profits and engagement while others sizzle out.

                    Eric Garton said in an April 25, 2017, Harvard Business Review article:[1]

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                    “… inspiring leaders are those who use their unique combination of strengths to motivate individuals and teams to take on bold missions – and hold them accountable for results. And they unlock higher performance through empowerment, not command and control.”

                    How to Be an Inspiring and Influential Leader

                    To be an inspiring and influential leader requires:

                    1. Courage

                    The late poet Maya Angelou once said,

                    “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”

                    Courage is required in the workplace when implementing new strategies, especially when they go against professional norms.

                    For instance, I heard Lisa TerKeurst, bestselling author and founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, explain her decision to move away from her company’s magazine. While the organization had long had a magazine, she saw a future where it didn’t exist.

                    In order to make the switch, she risked angering her team members and customers. She took a chance, and what started out as a monthly newsletter, has grown into a multi-dimensional organization boasting half a million followers. Had Lisa not found the courage to change the direction of her organization, they undoubtedly would not have been able to experience such exponential growth.

                    It also takes courage to give and receive feedback. When leaders see employees who are not living into the company’s mission or who are engaging in behavior that may undermine their long-term success, one must risk temporary angst and speak candidly with the colleague in question.

                    Similarly, it takes courage to hear constructive criticism and try to change. In business, as in life, courage is necessary for being an inspiring and influential leader.

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                    2. A Commitment to Face Your Internal Demons.

                    If you feel great about yourself, enter a leadership position. You are likely to be triggered in ways you didn’t think possible. You are also likely to receive feedback that may leave you second-guessing yourself and your leadership skills.

                    The truth about leading others is that you get to a point where you realize that it is difficult to take people to places where you yourself haven’t gone.

                    To be an influential and inspiring leader, you have to face your own demons and vow to continually improve. Influential leaders take their personal evolution serious, and they invest in coaching, therapy and mindfulness to ensure that their personal struggles do not overshadow their professional development.

                    3. A Willingness to Accept Feedback

                    Inspiring and influential leaders are not afraid to accept feedback. In fact, they actively solicit it. They understand that everyone in their life has a lesson to teach them, and they are willing to accept it.

                    Inspirational leaders understand that feedback is neither good nor bad but rather an offering that is critical to growth. Even when it hurts or is an affront to the ego, influential leaders understand that feedback is critical to their ability to lead.

                    4. Likability

                    Some people will argue that leaders need not worry about being liked but should instead focus on being respected. I disagree. Both are important.

                    When team members like their boss and believe their boss likes them, they are more likely to go the extra mile to fulfill departmental or organizational goals. Likable leaders are moved to the front of the line when it comes to being influential.

                    Relatedly, when colleagues feel management dislikes them, they experience internal stress and can spend unnecessary time focusing on the source of their manager’s discontent versus the work they have been hired to do.

                    So, likability is important for both the leader and the people she leads.

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                    5. Vulnerability

                    Vulnerability is critical for being an inspiring leader. People want the truth. They admire leaders who can occasionally demonstrate vulnerability. It promotes deeper relationships and inspires trust.

                    When leaders can showcase vulnerability appropriately, they destroy the illusion that one must be perfect to be a leader. They also demonstrate that vulnerability is not a dirty word; they too can be vulnerable and ask for a helping hand when necessary.

                    6. Authenticity

                    Authenticity is about living up to one’s stated values in public and behind closed doors.

                    Influential leaders are authentic. They set to live out their values and use those values to guide their decisions. The interesting thing about leadership is that people are not looking for perfect leaders. They are, in part, looking for leaders who are authentic.

                    7. A True Understanding of Inspiration

                    Effective leaders are inspirational. They understand the power of words and deeds and use both strategically.

                    Inspiring leaders appropriately use stories and narratives to enable the teams around them to see common situations in an entirely new light.

                    Inspirational leaders also showcase grit and triumph while convincing the people around them that success and victory are attainable.

                    Finally, inspiring leaders encourage the teams they lead to tap into their own genius. They convince others that genius is not reserved for a select few but that most people have it in them.

                    As explained in the article True Leadership: What Separates a Leader from a Boss:

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                    “A leader creates visions and motivates team members to work together towards the same goal.”

                    8. An Ability to See the Humanity in Others

                    Inspiring and influential leaders see the humanity in others. Rather than treating their teams as mere tools to accomplish organizational goals, they believe the people around them are unique beings with inherent value.

                    This means knowing when to pause to address personal challenges and dispelling with the myth that the personal is separate from the professional.

                    9. A Passion for Continual Learning

                    Inspiring and influential leaders are committed to continual learning. They invest in their own development and take responsibility for their professional growth.

                    These leaders understand that like a college campus, the workplace is a laboratory for learning. They believe that they can learn from multiple generations in the workplace as well as from people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

                    Influential leaders proactively seek out opportunities for learning.

                    The Bottom Line

                    No one said leadership was easy, but it is also a joy. Influencing others to action and positively impacting the lives of others is a reward unto itself.

                    Since leadership abounds, there is an abundance of resources to help you grow into the type of leader who inspires and influences others.

                    More Resources About Effective Leadership

                    Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

                    Reference

                    [1] Harvard Business Review: How to Be an Inspiring Leader

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