8 mindsets that will reshape the future of the work experience

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To make sense of the world, we rely heavily on our frames of reference. These references, which we call “states of mind,” are intrinsically correlated with our motivation and guide our decision-making, our daily actions and our self-determination.

In the field of psychology, we refer to the state of mind as a set of assumptions, methods or notions held by one or more people. Mindsets are seen as deep and ingrained beliefs and they can present themselves in different ways. This makes sense given that we each come to life with unique genetic makeup. We have different aptitudes, carrying capacities and capacities. It’s biodiversity – it’s kind of a no-brainer. From there, however, we learned some trends. From our early experiences, we formulate stories that continue to shape the way we see the world in front of us. Specifically, the way we frame situations and put them into perspective tends to impact the way we think, feel, and behave. Now here’s the catch: Depending on the main mindsets, assumptions, notions and methods that we hold, we end up displaying different sets of leadership styles. Depending on our awareness and our ability to differentiate ourselves, we end up demonstrating a variety of behaviors that can impact the type of climate we present for others and the organizational culture shapes our individual behaviors.

In our two-year collaborative study with the Center for Research and Education on Compassion and Altruism (CCARE) at Stanford University, we found that there are eight new mindsets that may have a positive effect on the climate within organizations, as opposed to pre-existing predominant mentalities in society and within our workplaces. These mentalities include attention (on control), abundance (on scarcity), well-being (on well-being), production (on the defensive), interdependence (on self- orientation), the collective (on the individual), growth (on the fixed) and reflection (on the action).

In this article, let’s share three examples of these eight mindsets and their traditional comparisons, how they manifest and create momentum within organizations.

Take care to control the state of mind

Our experiences at work and in life are usually defined by “micro moments”. These are unique moments of connection that we make in a given environment. They can take the form of eye contact, a smile, or just being present. Of course, most of our work experiences are shaped by control mindsets. It is the degree of regulation perceived within a given environment (i.e. home, school or work). They are environments primarily composed of conscious and unconscious policies and procedures. Under these roofs, people watch each other for outrage in behavior. Not only can it be learned, but such caution is only natural because when we have a mind of control we tend to avoid our emotions. Stress hormones kick in, we become more fearful of strangers and resistant to potential changes. When prolonged, this kind of state manifests itself in overt or hidden actions of transgression.

In positive, high performing work environments, we find that there is more caring in the culture, a scientific construct that impacts the way people present themselves and relate to each other. It is the degree of affection and compassion that people feel and express towards each other. In the presence of a benevolent mindset, there is a higher record for modeling positive value-based behaviors. In this state, the brains of both donors and recipients release positive neurotransmitters that expand their ability to offer and acquire emotional transcendence. As a result, there is more openness, an increased sense of connection. Within such organizational cultures, we have found that workers experience less absenteeism, less burnout, greater teamwork and greater job satisfaction. Because of its measurable value, companies such as PepsiCo, Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods Market, The Container Store, and Zappos have started to explicitly include kindness in their leadership principles.

Abundance rather than scarcity

A scarcity mentality focuses on what is missing – all the time. In this state, we tend to perceive that everything is limited in the environment – time, money, love. As a result, we consciously or unconsciously find ourselves preoccupied with what can go wrong most of the time. This is also true of working environments. Those who lead with a mentality of scarcity in their culture pay a high price. When resources (compensation, opportunity, recognition) are seen as limited, paranoia, fear, and politics thrive. In this state, people get nervous about their future and are afraid of making a mistake. As a result, teamwork and innovation often suffer.

The abundance mindset is an alternate goal. Abundance is a wealth of something. An abundant mindset fuels our confidence because we know there is enough in the environment and can spare what is available on the things that matter most. Those who lead with an abundant mindset broaden perspective, better integrate needs, schedules and experiences to allocate resources more wisely. In this state, employees find the space and sources to connect with their purpose, creative thinking, and stakeholder management. In other words, within such environments, individuals are freed from future anxiety. Therefore, they can better coordinate aspirations and collaborate in action, resulting in the formation of higher senses. Naturally, organizations with this mindset become more profitable and this is not because they focus on the competition, but rather because they focus on creating opportunities and synergies.

Growth on a fixed mindset

A fixed mindset maintains the belief that our abilities are predefined and cannot be changed. When we lead with such beliefs we become compressed in our views and energy, we tend to avoid challenges because we may not want to feel embarrassed or humbled in front of others. This is often problematic because our fear of making mistakes can cause us to avoid challenges and new experiences that could help us grow and unlock our potential with others.

A growth mindset is the belief that our basic abilities can be developed and improved through dedication and effort. When we have a growth mindset, our muscles relax, we breathe better, and our inner capacity expands considerably. As a result, we become willing to rely on the effort required to develop our potential the way we want to see it come to life. Such a state can help us focus on the opportunities ahead and discover more joy in the process, as we know that we value learning and discovery over what others may think of us. Neuroscience shows us great organizational benefits of adopting a growth mindset. Because our energy radiates contagiously, when we approach possibilities with an open mind, we become more collaborative and our collective resilience grows over time.

We come to realize now in the 21st century that our human condition is more complex than any economic outcome and that our world is not just a place of competition, everyone has their place. Yet it is still not the same as educating people to think, to feel, to relate differently. In fact, the reality is that the majority of us as adults are extremely well trained in just one way of thinking, feeling and communicating.

It’s an invitation to imagine what our life and work experiences might look like if we learned to relate to ourselves and everyone or everything around us in a different way. Our research shows that being in a positive mindset can improve the leadership experience and collective productivity at the organizational level. The different personalities we become and the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of our response naturally determine our next set of life experiences.

This is a simple yet very powerful way to examine the potential within our future organizations. For more information on the new states of mind favorable to the 21st century of leadership, you can refer to our mini-course on LinkedInLearning.

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