As William James observed about the budding field of psychology over a century ago, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.”  In this century, thanks to the work of Carol Dweck, we know that by changing how we think, we can change whether we succeed.  And as Change Leaders, whether the clients, teams, and organizations we serve succeed as well.

In Dweck’s words, summarizing her research with student populations (timely information in this back-to-school season):  “We found that students’ mindsets—how they perceive their abilities—played a key role in their motivation and achievement, and we found that if we changed students’ mindsets, we could boost their achievement. More precisely, students who believed their intelligence could be developed (a GROWTH mindset) outperformed those who believed their intelligence was fixed (a FIXED mindset). And when students learned through a structured program that they could ‘grow their brains’ and increase their intellectual abilities, they did better. Finally, we found that having children focus on the process that leads to learning (like hard work or trying new strategies) could foster a growth mindset and its benefits” Reference:  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Here’s a wonderful graphic that summarizes many of her key findings, and their implications:


Our mindset filters our perspectives on our experiences.  As basketball great Michael Jordan observed, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Change initiatives are often fraught with “what looks like” failure.  Adopting a growth mindset, and coaching our clients and colleagues to do the same, helps keep the focus on the learning opportunities presented by the challenges.  Management guru Peter Drucker asserts, “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change.  And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.”


How can you use these insights
as a Change Leader?
Ask yourself:

• How do I react when the inevitable setback occurs? With demoralized frustration, or energized action?

• What language do I use when thinking about obstacles, and when talking about them with others?  Do I focus on “problems” or “possibilities”?  On “threats” or “opportunities”?  On “what’s wrong / not working” or on “what’s right / to build on”?

• When the approach I’m taking is questioned or I receive feedback that others appear to be resisting, do I react with defensiveness or curiosity?  Do I “push forward to overcome the opposition,” or do I “surface, explore, and honor alternative perspectives”?


Successful and sustainable change starts with us.  And to lead change, we need to start with our mindset as change leaders – and grow ourselves, so we can grow change.  Just like we can learn to adopt a growth mindset, so we can learn to grow our Change Intelligence, or CQ.  As Change Leaders, we benefit from not only a positive growth-oriented “mindset” – but also from an engaging “heartset” and effective “skillset.”  That’s what Change Intelligent Leaders know – that what looks like resistance in others is often that we as Change Leaders may not be giving people what they need to “get it” (our mindset – the “head” – focusing on purpose), to “want it” (our heartset – the “heart” – focusing on people) or to “be able to do it” (our skillset – the “hands” – focusing on process).  That’s CQ in a nutshell!

How can you build your mindset and heartset and skillset as a Change Leader, to dramatically increase the probability of leading change that sticks?  Join me for a FREE informational webinar to learn more about the Change Intelligence/CQ Certification Program, which is approved for credit by the ACMP, HRCI, ICF, and PMI (even if you can’t attend live, by registering you can view the recording at your convenience) – click here to learn more.  We’ll have an interactive learning experience – I’ll be answering your questions live, and feel free to also email them to me ahead of time!


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