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Is a social business born or made?

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Is a social business born or made?

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When working in the management industry a few years ago a frequent topic for debate would be whether managers/leaders are born or whether they can be made.  Suffice to say, my employer at the time was heavily invested in them being made, although I wonder quite how honestly they really believed that.

It’s a topic that is no doubt aired in a great many fields however.  Whatever area of expertise it’s asked in however, the answer is generally dependent upon the mindset of those involved in asking the question.  Do you have a fixed mindset, or a growth mindset?  Lets look at each of these in turn.  I’m sure you’ll recognize traits from each in people you know, and undoubtedly in yourself too.

Fixed mindset

Lets start with the fixed mindset.  This is the kind of thinking that believes we’re largely stuck with the abilities and talents we’re born with.  People with this mindset believe intelligence is a relatively static entity, and they tend to therefore look for ways in which they can show off their intelligence.  Of course, the flip side of this is that they will often avoid tasks that restrict this self-image of themselves, so will often avoid difficult or challenging tasks because failure would tell them that they’re not as smart as they thought they were.

In a similar sense, because such people believe their talent is in-built within them, there can be a tendency to believe that any outcomes should come naturally and easily to them.  Trying hard is for people without the talent.  Effort is for losers.  As such, criticism can be taken very negatively, as the criticism is taken very personally.  Because of this mentality, the success of colleagues and team-mates is all seen as a reflection of them.  Others failing therefore is often great, as it makes you look better.

You can see, it’s not a great picture of an individual, and runs counter to many of the philosophies that sit at the heart of social business.  Lets compare the fixed mindset with the growth mindset.

Growth Mindset

People with the growth mindset tend to regard intelligence as something that has to be developed.  It’s akin to thinking of our brain as a muscle, and as with every muscle, it becomes stronger the more it’s trained.  This belief lends itself nicely to a desire for constant improvement.

Just as the fixed mindset people will avoid challenges, the growth mindset people will seek them out.  They’ll love taking on difficult tasks because challenges nearly always come accompanied by learning opportunities.  You won’t get put off by obstacles in your path and will put in the effort required to get better at things to the point that you begin to master them.  As such, feedback will be actively solicited in the hope that it will make you better.

The success of others in your team is not seen as something that detracts from your own abilities either, so you’re much more likely to share knowledge and collaborate with team-mates in the hope that they can succeed too.

You can see how conversant the growth mindset is with the ideals of a social business.  These are things that you should be looking for when hiring new employees.  It should be something you look to develop in existing employees (and it can be developed).

Does your own organization have a growth mindset?  How about you as an individual?

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