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fixedI undertake executive and senior management coaching in organisations which I find very rewarding. When reflecting on successful coaching engagements, I have tried to identify the key common attributes of these individuals. What has separated these individuals who have been receptive to the coaching process in comparison to those who tend to resist the key concepts, insights and changes that would appear to make them more effective?

From my experience, it appears to come down to mindset; whether individuals have a fixed or a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe they ‘are who they are’ and avoid challenges, obstacles or putting in effort to develop because of fear of failure or judgement. Conversely, people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is developed, and they embrace challenges and opportunities to learn and develop themselves; to make themselves better.

Where this concept applies to executives and their development is around their ability to be open to improvement and the changes they need to make to be truly effective. It also closely links to the need to focus more on transitioning from task activities to engaging people (which I wrote about previously here). Making these shifts is hard and goes against years of ingrained thinking and practices.

I see a lot of executives who have potential, with skills that initially put them ahead of others who perhaps aren’t gifted with the same natural ability. However, initial talent is more common than table salt. A growth mindset, openness to improvement and a focus on getting better every day will overtake the natural talent base that has been provided to any of us.

How hard are you willing to work and challenge yourself to improve? Are you open to the changes you need to make? Start with answering this question and looking at why you want to change and you will increase the likelihood of success in your coaching programs within your organisation. This will not only increase your return on investment but it is likely to identify future senior leaders who will be successful during times of change.

This concept of a fixed vs growth mindset is brilliantly explained by Carol Dweck in this diagram which you can find here. Carol Dweck also has a great online tool that allows you to test your mindset, try it here.