Crystal L. Hoyt, associate professor of leadership studies and psychology, and Jeni Burnette, assistant professor of psychology, write about growth mindsets for the Leading Thoughts section of The New York Times.


The success of top leaders in any domain, from the non-profit, to business, to the military, is owed in part to self-determination and self-management. What we are just now learning is that the extent to which we are goal-driven, self-motivated, and self-disciplined depends in large part on our mindsets. In particular, one vital belief system is the extent to which we believe that human characteristics and abilities, such as intelligence and leadership, are malleable and changeable (growth mindset) or stable and unchanging (fixed mindset). Across domains from academics, to negotiations, to weight maintenance, and, importantly, to leadership, those with growth mindsets fare much better in the face of challenges and setbacks. People with a growth mindset tend to remain confident, and persist in the face of obstacles. Thus, considering the inevitable challenges associated with being a successful leader, holding a growth mindset can help enable individuals to engage in the activities needed to reach their leadership aspirations.

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