• LaWanda Woods-Howard

Managing Workplace Sabotage through the lenses of a Growth Mindset

This is one of those topics. Having spoken to many women on the subject, I thought is was important to bring awareness to it but, through the lenses of a growth mindset. I welcome your thoughts . . .

It appears that this subject, predominately affects those who are in what I'll call middle managers or coordinators positions. Race could be a factor but, I'm not purporting that it is. However, gender does appear to have a role. Whether you are a female and you report to a male or, just the opposite, I think you'll find this relevant.

Working for or with someone who consistently works hard to discredit you rather than working harder to build a team is both stressful and needless. It causes you to spend an exorbitant amount of time second guessing yourself and ensuring that everything you do is as near perfect as possible. Nothing can be perfect and I know you know that as well. We should all be in a place of normalizing mistakes because they continue to happen. It's just a part of life.

But getting back on the subject. In such cases, you are working with or for someone whose mindset is predominately FIXED. Now, keep in mind, we all have both mindsets but, the degree to which side of the brain muscle you use, determines which one is more dominate. The fixed mindset person is more concerned with how they appear to others (maybe their boss). They are risk averse, they cover their flaws by highlighting yours and they are defensive if they're pointed out. They see this as a personal attack. They would rather appear great rather than working on themselves to actually become great. They are threatened or intimidated by the success of others and will try very hard to demean you with personal attacks and try to destroy you professionally.

Here are my list of growth mindset strategies to adopt to help them grow:

Provide and reflect an environment that is supportive and “safe.”

Show them through demonstration how you respond to new ideas, setbacks and change. They may take notice (and I say, "may" because you can't change a leopard's strips) which would allow them to see how effort can lead to positive outcomes. That setbacks, while a nuisance, can be overcome and how failure can lead to greater learning about what to do differently next time.

Talk about growth mindset culture in other organizations.

Next time you're in a meeting, use conversations about the success of other organizations as an opportunity to include snippets of information on the growth mindset approach. Share how these organizations have used growth mindset to build a team.

Inquire how they would address the issue.

Remember, they have a need to be known for something great so, indulge them. Ask for their opinion or help with something. This can go a long ways toward relationship building. Also, inviting dialogue can help someone with a fixed mindset come up with their own solutions.

Maintain a growth mindset towards your manager.

This is the most important tip! Do your best to maintain a growth mindset towards your fixed mindset manager! Don't give up on them. There are plenty of examples of people who once approached their job, their education, their beliefs about intelligence (including Carol Dweck) or their relationships in a fixed mindset way, only to realize that they could improve their approach and their outcomes by adopting a growth mindset.

This is not an exhausted list of strategies but, it's a start. Helping others empower themselves through developing a growth orientated mindset creates an environment that is less stressful, strengthen brain neuroplasticity and boosts productivity and performance in the workplace.

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