ARTICLE BY Sarah Gornall

Every New Year starts with an urge to do better, be better, turn over a new leaf – to cast off some of the old and start the new.

Maybe the place to start is by refreshing how we think about ourselves, and by developing a mindset that is open to new insights into how we operate and how others perceive us. When we bring the same old mindset that served us in 2019 to new resolutions, we may set ourselves up for failure. When we shift towards a mindset of personal growth and choice, we become more open to others as well and are more likely to have a positive impact on the outcomes we desire.

Why is mindset so important?

Mindset is the underlying foundation of how we interpret other people’s reactions, our context and difference.

A closed or fixed mindset shuts down new options, rejects other people’s views of how we behave, limits our possible actions and tends to lead to the same old outcomes we’ve had before (or worse!).

A mindset that is positively open to personal growth opens up options, helps us to understand other people’s perceptions of how we behave, opens up choices about how to act because we have a greater understanding, and leads to more effective communication, influencing and leadership.

Coaching Mindset

The largest professional association for coaches, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) has a new competency framework, which emphasises Coaching Mindset, expecting to see that the coach:

>Develops and maintains a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client-centred
>Remains aware of and open to the influence of context and culture on self and others
>Uses awareness of self and one’s intuition to benefit clients
>Develops and maintains the ability to regulate one’s emotions

We’ve all got unconscious filters, through which we interpret what other people say and do. These filters have their origins in the way we’ve been brought up and how we’ve been socialised by our family, community, work and wider culture. Having a mindset that is open and curious to other possibilities encourages diverse views and growth. It helps us align to other people’s preferences and work with them in a way that both supports and challenges them.

Leadership Mindset

Interesting too, that the Institute of Directors also identifies Mindset as one of the 3 key areas of the Competency Framework for Directors. The other two are Knowledge and Skills, both in many ways more easily learnt than Mindset, which is the foundation that will determine how well knowledge and skills are applied. The IoD expects Directors to be Ethical, Professional, Performance Oriented and Aware of Self and Others: to have insight into their own emotions and behaviours and to display sensitivity to the feelings of others. In the Board room, this will underpin the ability of Directors to communicate, influence, lead, collaborate and self-manage in times of conflict.

So, what’s your Mindset for 2020?

How about setting your intention on a positive personal growth mindset for 2020?
>Reflect on how you understand yourself and your place in the world
>Ask other people how your behaviour lands with them
>Reflect on whether this fits with who you really want to be
>Experiment with fresh ways of doing, thinking and being

Sarah Gornall, Past President UK ICF Chapter – International Coach Federation

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