That’s easier said than done, however. Does there come a point in a leaders’s life when they feel they have learned everything they need to learn? Leaders have egos that can get in the way. Innovation training programmes won’t cut it for people who feel training shows up their inadequacies.
Consider that the average CEO on the Harvard Business Review’s list of the 100 Best-Performing CEOs is 58. Pair that with research which suggests creativity peaks at about age 40 or 45 and then enters a slow decline.
If you have spent 30 years in a company and you have done so well that it got you into a leadership position, you are not likely to enjoy being questioned on your mindset and toolbox even though it might be fair to do so.
Fixed & Growth Mindsets
Mindset can certainly get in the way. Psychology professor Carol Dweck refers to two types of mindset – fixed and growth. Those with fixed mindsets believe their basic qualities are fixed traits and that talent alone creates success—without effort.
Many senior leaders have fixed mindsets and think they’re at their peak – that they couldn’t possibly develop any more. Or at least that’s the image they want to project.
If you have a growth mindset you believe you can develop skills and expertise through dedication and hard work. You love learning, tend to be more resilient and believe you can achieve great things.
The most successful business leaders display a growth mindset. They’re constantly learning and looking for opportunities to do things differently and to develop themselves.
They also tend to be inherently curious about everything they see. They take inspiration from similar businesses or look laterally at businesses that aren’t necessarily related to them but can offer useful insights. If they travel, they will look at how organisations operate in different cultures and environments.
Senior executives need to get curious and embrace this growth mindset. By doing so they will start to model innovation behaviours that will be picked up by colleagues at all levels of the organisation.