Mindset Drives Everything

A third of FIVE FORMATIVE PROFESSIONAL DYNAMICS (see my earlier posts for the first two) is the frame of mind a person or team possesses: MINDSET. Mindset generates the mental reflexes that become our professional habits. It predisposes us to do things unconsciously and say things without thinking. It encourages us to see things based on our conditioned perceptions. This happens to individuals and collectively to teams.

What mindset does your team have (whether articulated intentionally or unspoken default tendencies)? It drives attitudes and behaviors. Consider, for example, the following: Apple’s mindset of “think differently;” Ritz-Carlton’s mindset of “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen;” Harley-Davidson’s “American by birth, rebel by choice;” Levi’s “quality never goes out of style;” Nike’s “just do it;” Jaguar’s “grace, space, pace;” and Disneyland’s “the happiest place on earth.”

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Associate Director of Columbia Business School’s Motivation Science Center, points out in this four-minute video how important it is for team leaders to manage according to the needs and mindset focus of their respective team members. She talks in terms of two dominant foci: (1) a prevention focus; or (2) a promotion focus. Team members who possess the former focus tend to have mindset reflexes embracing security, avoiding mistakes, fulfilling responsibilities and are less comfortable with new things. Team member who possess the latter focus tend to have mindset reflexes embracing creativity, risk-taking, brain-storming and best case scenarios. Neither is “right” or “more effective.” The point is, we can bring out the best in teams when we are aware of and manage the mindset according to the circumstances.

Managing mindset –one’s own and ones team–is not only a professional dynamic that shapes us; it shapes every customer experience. Excellence in Service is about excellence in mindset.

REFLECTION: (1) What is your dominant mindset? (2) What is the dominant mindset of members of your team? (3) How can you leave your comfort zone in order to be effective in matching your management style with a particular team member’s needs? (4) What phrase might capture the overall mindset your team needs to bring out its best?