Javier has been approached many times by his boss to consider applying for a supervisor job. “I’m not the type who can teach others,” he routinely said.
That might be true, or Javier could be assuming that leadership is something he should be naturally good at without training and practice.
It is true that some people have natural talents, and sometimes they blossom into greatness. Other “naturals” start strong, but don’t develop their talents further. They peak early and fade, often because they operate under the assumption that true greats don’t need to work at their craft.
How do you make the most of your natural talents – and develop new ones? Your mindset about your ability matters. Carol Dweck studies the mindsets of athletes and has found that there are two distinct assumptions.
Other people, in contrast, hold a growth mindset of ability. They believe that people can cultivate their abilities. In other words, they view talents as potentialities that can be developed through practice.
Javier doesn’t see the potential – that with study, coaching and practice, he could be a great supervisor. Javier believes “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Maybe that’s true to dogs, but not people, at least according to the latest brain research.
The idea of neuroplasticity is simply that the brain changes in response to experience. It changes in response to our actions. It changes in our response to our relationships. It changes in response to specific training. These activities will shape the brain, and we can take advantage of neuroplasticity and actually play a more intentional role in shaping our own brains…
Self-perceptions (like “I can’t be a supervisor”) can be limiting, and they are one of the first things that you should work on changing. Figure out what specific behaviors you think good supervisors do, and start emulating those.
Over time, a growth mindset and some hard work can make new behaviors a part of your natural repertoire.
Need help developing new skills? Contact Humanergy.
Photo from iStockphoto.