Article Overview

In this article, we are going to cover the importance of mindsets when it comes to activating and adapting to changes.  

Table of Contents 

  1. Change or Slow Death?
  2. The Pain of Activating Change
  3. What Change Requires
  4. Now Reflect
  5. Why We Overlook Mindsets
  6. Fixed and Growth Mindsets
  7. Closed and Open Mindsets
  8. Prevention and Promotion Mindsets
  9. Inward and Outward Mindsets
  10. Summary

Change or Slow Death?

I think we all understand the importance of change in our organizations. Not only are we having to adapt and pivot because of Covid-19 and its repercussions, but because of increased competition, shorted product timelines, and rapidly changing customer interests and needs. 

The reality is that we either change or walk the path of slow death. 

But, that being said, change is significantly easier said than done. 

For example, I just got an email from a project manager who said: “I frequently see personnel who have a very hard time adapting to change, causing the failure, stagnancy, and long-term increased costs.”

This individual went on to ask, “How do we move, improve, or motivate employees to change?”

The Pain of Activating Change

Can you relate to this individual? It is my guess is that you are more frequently asking and motivating your employees to change and adapt and that this is met with both acceptance and resistance. 

That resistance though is draining on your time, your psyche, and your effectiveness. 

So, what can you do to ease this resistance and better lead change?

What Change Requires

Change, at its most foundational level, requires people to change their perspectives, or in other words, their mindsets. 

Change requires that people see the world differently when comparing themselves at Time A and at Time B. Because when they see the world differently, they think differently, learn differently, and behave differently. Change.

Now Reflect

Across your efforts to activate and motivate change, have you ever directly focused on mindset? Why or why not?
What I have found is that when organizations are looking to develop their employees, only 12% focus on mindsets. Yet, it is the most foundational element of change. 
It is my guess is that you have overlooked the role and importance of mindsets in change. And, because of that, your change efforts have been resisted more than had you focused on mindsets. 

Why We Overlook Mindsets

Working with dozens of organizations, I have observed one primary reason why organizations and its leaders and managers overlook change: they don’t know what mindsets they need to and should focus on. 

I have sifted through decades of research across psychology, education, management, and marketing to identify specific mindsets that are critical to personal and organizational agility. The result is four sets of mindsets, each ranging on a continuum from negative to positive.
 Four Sets of Mindsets
Over and over again, research has found that individuals with more positive mindsets are more open and willing to change than those with negative mindsets. So, if you want to help your change efforts to be more effective, it is critical that you promote growth, open, promotion, and outward mindsets. 

I describe each of these mindset sets below. 

Fixed and Growth Mindsets

A growth mindset is a belief that employees can change their talents, abilities, and intelligence. This differs from a fixed mindset, which is the belief that employees can't change these key attributes. 

Who is going to be more agile and willing to change? Someone who believes they can or someone who believes they can’t?

Closed and Open Mindsets

When employees possess an open mindset, they listen to others' ideas and are willing to take those ideas seriously. This differs from a closed mindset, which shuts out others' ideas.
Why would someone ever be closed to others’ ideas? It is generally because they think that what they know is best. When this is the case, their focus becomes on being right, validating themselves, and providing answers, while simultaneously shutting down alternative perspectives and ideas. 

Those with an open mindset, on the other hand, believe that they can be wrong, which leads them to focus less on being right and more on finding truth and thinking optimally. This leads them to be the ones asking questions and inviting alternative perspectives and ideas. 

Who is going to be more agile and willing to change? Those who think what they know is best or those who believe they can be wrong?

Prevention and Promotion Mindsets

When employees possess a promotion mindset, they're focused on winning and gains. When individuals possess a prevention mindset, they are focused on not losing and avoiding problems.
Individuals with a prevention mindset are very well-intended. They want to avoid problems and want to ensure everything runs without a hitch. This is not a bad thing unless these desires become more important than making progress toward a goal and purpose. When our focus becomes primarily on avoiding problems, we naturally hold onto the status quo and become fearful of change and the problems that might ensue. They lose sight of the fact that to navigate effectively into an unknown future, they are going to have to wade through problems, not run from them.
Who is going to be more agile and willing to change? Those who seek to avoid problems or those who seek to accomplish goals?

Inward and Outward Mindsets

When employees possess an outward mindset, they see others as being just as important as themselves, allowing them to see others as people of value. When employees possess an inward mindset, they see themselves as being more important than others, causing them to see others as objects. 

When individuals have an inward mindset, they are inclined to think in terms of “what is best for me?” and not in terms of “what is best for my team/our customers.” As a result, they resist getting out of their comfort zone. But, when individuals have an outward mindset, they are inclined to think in terms of “how can I add value to my team/our customers?” As a result, they are open to and receptive to doing the challenging things to ensure value is added. 

Who is going to be more agile and willing to change? Those who seek what is best for them or those who seek what is best for others?


To summarize the research associated with each of these sets of mindsets and their role in agility, see the table below:

Types of Mindsets